GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition that results from mucosal damage that occurs when stomach acid repeatedly backflows into the esophagus, irritating the esophageal lining. Abnormal relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular ring that holds the stomach closed, is the most common cause of GERD. The condition can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Heartburn is a burning sensation that tends to develop in the upper and midportion of the chest, and much like GERD, it is caused by gastric acid rising up and irritating the lining of the esophagus. In some situations, the acid reaches the throat. Most people find that laying down and bending over intensify the discomfort. Doctors often prescribe antacids to relieve heartburn; however, if this symptom occurs frequently, other treatment methods, such as lifestyle changes, are safer than continued use of medications.
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