What Is GERD?

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Old 02-Jul-2010
What Is GERD?

GERD, medical acronym for ‘Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease’, is an upsetting condition in which gastro acids regurgitates into the esophagus, causing it to inflame in the process. The reflux acid irritates the esophagus and triggers the classic symptoms of GERD like heartburn, throat burn, nausea and more. GERD mainly occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) — the muscular valve where the esophagus joins the stomach — opens inadvertently or does not close properly. This chronic condition, sadly, has extensive affect on health and often interferes with the activities of everyday life. It is usually a mild condition that runs the risk of spewing severe consequences if not treated in time. Often unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary habits are held responsible for this unwanted condition.Large and spicy meals, lying or bending down straightaway after meals, eating at odd hours and irregular dietary habits are some of the most common causes behind this acid reflux. Apart from these, unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and even obesity can even worsen the disorder. If you suffer from unexplained heartburn or chest pain, a quick rundown through the common symptoms of GERD will help you find out if you are suffering from the same.

GERD Symptoms

Heartburn is often emphasized as one of the foremost symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is a warm burning sensation in the chest often triggered by the acid reflux in the esophagus. When the gastric acid ebbs up to the esophagus, the nerve fibers in the region are sensitized and actuate a burning sensation that can become severe at times. It sparks off from the core of the chest and often radiates up to the neck, throat, back and even jaws. Heartburn is a common symptom of GERD that may either show up frequently or periodically.

Another off-putting symptom of GERD is regurgitation, a distasteful sensation that occurs when the gastric acid travels all the way up from the stomach to the mouth. Acidic regurgitation often leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Most people tend to swallow back the acid in an effort to clear their mouth, but doing so can worsen the condition since they tend to swallow air with the saliva that can produce gaseous distention and aggravate GERD symptom of belching. Repeated belching can induce more acid, in a vicious circle of acid reflux, air swallowing and belching.

Another classic symptom of GERD is nausea. Queasiness and vomiting is likely to plague anyone suffering from GERD. While in some patients, the feeling may be periodical, in more serious cases, the feeling may be followed by vomiting. Most patients may develop heartburn as a result of this, though the cause remains unexplained so far.

Chest Pain
People suffering from GERD may often complain of chest pain due to the acid reflux. It is in fact, the most common clinical complaints encountered by the physicians. This non cardiac chest pain, that mimics the signs of angina pectoris at times, rises from the esophagus and can be severe at times.

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