Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease & Heartburn

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is also called GERD. GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back (refluxes) into the esophagus. In normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and acid from flowing backwards into the esophagus. GERD occurs when the LES is weak or relaxes too frequently. Acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and can cause many different symptoms.

If you have GERD, you may experience a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn) and/or throat, sour taste in your mouth, chest pain, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), dry cough, hoarseness or sore throat, regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux), and sensation of a lump in the throat.

Some experts estimate that as many as 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from GERD symptoms with approximately 10% of these individuals experiencing symptoms daily.

You should talk with your physician if you experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms and/or if you take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week. Please seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe chest pain, especially when combined with other signs and symptoms such as difficulty breathing or jaw or arm pain. Chest pain could be a symptom of a heart attack.