What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also referred to as reflux, is a chronic digestive disease in which acid and bile flow back from the stomach into the esophagus, creating pain and often causing damage to the lining of the esophagus.
What Causes Gerd?
GERD is caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally the LES acts like a one-way valve, allowing food and liquid to pass through to the stomach, but preventing stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus.
Risks of GERD
In addition to producing a wide range of symptoms, GERD can lead to potentially serious complications including:
- Esophagitis (Inflammation that can damage the tissue of the esophagus)
- Stricture (Narrowing of the esophagus)
- Barrett’s esophagus (Pre-cancerous changes to the tissue lining the esophagus)
- Esophageal cancer
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. However, GERD can produce a wide variety of symptoms including those listed below.
- Dental erosion & bad breath
- Change in voice
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Chest pain
Living With GERD
GERD can affect your life beyond the symptoms you feel. Patients with GERD often suffer:
- Poor quality of sleep
- Reduced work productivity
- Dietary compromises to avoid symptoms
- Concerns about the long-term effects of GERD
- Life-long dependence on GERD medications