What is GERD and how does it relate to heartburn?
GERD, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, occurs when stomach acid repeatedly backs up, or refluxes, into the esophagus. GERD is also known as acid reflux disease. Heartburn is a burning sensation below the breastbone area. Heartburn is a common symptom of GERD.
It is estimated that one million people in the Houston area alone suffer from heartburn. Around 50 million US adults have heartburn several times weekly. You are not alone. At Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center we help you take control of your disease and gain your life back.
The Symptoms that say you have GERD
GERD varies widely from person to person by presenting different symptoms, precipitated by different triggers, and occurring at different times of the day. Heartburn is the classic symptom of acid reflux. Severe heartburn may cause chest pain. Acid reflux can reach the upper esophagus and neck area leading to sour mouth taste, sore throat, dry cough, and hoarseness. Other symptoms of acid reflux include regurgitation of food or acid when you hiccup, burp, bend over, or lie down. Certain “Alarm Symptoms” should be taken very seriously, including difficulty swallowing which could signal esophageal cancer or chest pain related to an evolving cardiac event.
What causes GERD?
The stomach normally produces acid to help digest food. GERD occurs when the valve (lower esophageal sphincter) between the stomach and esophagus loses its ability to function as a barrier. When acid refluxes into the esophagus it results in a painful burning sensation called heartburn. Other causes for acid reflux include poor esophageal motility and delayed gastric emptying also known as gastroparesis.
What causes the valve to malfunction?
Many factors contribute to the gastro-esophageal valve malfunction. Overeating, alcohol, cigarette smoking, hiatal hernia, pregnancy and chemicals in certain foods are significant factors that affect the ability of the lower esophageal sphincter to hold acid down in the stomach. When the valve is mildly damaged, you may experience only mild reflux. The more the LES weakens, the more often you will experience reflux symptoms. And the more you reflux, the weaker the valve becomes. It is a vicious circle.
Concerned about your heartburn related GERD or acid reflux ?
GERD does not get better by itself. It is a long-term condition that affects your quality of life, health and longevity. Take Control and contact Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center today to seek a comprehensive heartburn evaluation and treatment.