GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux, a condition that results from mucosal damage occurring when stomach acid re-enters the esophagus during digestion. Abnormal relaxation of the lower oesophageal sphincter, the essential barrier that holds the stomach closed against the food pipe, is the most common cause of GERD. The condition can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Heartburn, the most common symptom of GERD, is a burning sensation that tends to develop at the base of the chest. Most people find that laying down and bending over intensify the feeling, which is caused by stomach acid rising up and into the vulnerable lining of the esophagus. In some cases, the acid reaches as far as the throat, causing further pain and damage. Doctors often prescribe antacids to relieve heartburn; however, if this symptom occurs frequently, other treatment methods, including lifestyle changes, are safer than continued consumption of medications.
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