GERD, Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, can occur when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not shut the proper way and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, back into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the lower part of the esophagus which acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries the food from the mouth to the stomach.
When the food is refluxed back, the stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus. This causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. You may taste this fluid in back of the mouth. This is called acid indigestion. Occasional heartburn is does not mean that you have GERD. Though if heartburn occurs more than twice a week, this may be considered GERD. GERD can gradually lead to more serious health problems.
Anyone, including infants, children, men, women, pregnant women, can devekio GERD.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation or reflux. Some people may have GERD without heartburn symptoms. Instead, they feel like they have pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning, or having a problem swallowing. You may feel like you have something that may be stuck in your throat or like you are choking. Your throat may also feel tight. GERD can, as well, can exhibit a dry cough and bad breath.
No one knows why people get these symptoms of GERD. A hiatal hernia may contribute to GERD. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach, above the diaphragm, the muscle wall separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps the LES which acts like a valve from keep acid from coming back up into the esophagus. When a hiatal hernia is present, it is much simpler for the acid to come up. In this path, a hiatal hernia can cause acid reflux. A hiatal hernia can happen in people of any any age, including infants. Many healthy people over 50 may have a small hiatal hernia.
Other factors that could contribute to GERD are:
* alcohol consumption
Also, certain foods may be associated with acide reflux events, including
* citrus fruits
* chocolate, drinks with caffeine
* fried foods
* garlic and onions
* strong mint flavorings
* spicy foods, like hot sauce
* tomato-based foods, like pizza, chili, pasta sauce
Fern Kuhn, RN
Specializing in Diabetes
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