Have you heard of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called acid reflux, is a chronic condition where liquid from the stomach backs up (refluxes) into the esophagus, which is a hollow tube that connects the throat to the stomach (your food tube!). GERD is prevalent all over the world, and about 18-28% of the United States population have GERD.
There are a few factors that can contribute to GERD such as lower esophageal sphincter abnormalities. The sphincter is a muscular ring that acts like a dam between the esophagus and the stomach. It opens up when you swallow to allow food into the stomach and then it’s squeezed tight to prevent food and acid in the stomach from backing up into the esophagus. When stomach acid does make it’s way back into the esophagus it can cause burning and inflammation. Another factor can be hiatal hernias. When there is an internal body part that pushes into a place that it doesn’t belong, that’s called a hernia. A hiatal hernia is when the stomach pushes up into the diaphragm which can lead to heartburn.