Acid Reflux and GERD: Everything You Need to Know About

Acid Reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease_
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Acid Reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused by stomach contents that continuously reflux up into the esophagus. These substances can irritate and hurt because they occasionally contain too much acid.

Heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux are common occurrences for many people. However, you could develop gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if you have symptoms of acid reflux more than twice a week.

About 20% of Americans suffer from GERD, according to a reliable source. If left untreated, there might be dangerous side effects.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux and GERD

Persistent heartburn, the most prevalent sign of GERD, might include: [ 1 ]

  • an intense burning sensation in your abdomen that might spread to your neck, throat, and chest;
  • a bitter or sour taste in the back of your tongue
  • the vomiting of liquids or food into your mouth from your stomach

Some more GERD symptoms that may exist are:

  • A sense of fullness or lumpiness at the back of the neck, often known as the globe sensation
  • persistent cough
  • a raspy voice.
  • bad breath

There are situations when people may have alarming GERD symptoms. These are usually chronic and may get worse over time, even with medical intervention. An underlying disease may also be indicated by alarm signs.

Symptoms of an alarm might be:

  • dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing
  • discomfort when swallowing (odynophagia)
  • vomiting or nausea reduction in weight
  • anemia
  • bleeding

Symptoms in infants

It is common for newborns to vomit or spit up food sometimes. However, your infant can develop GERD if they are constantly spitting or vomiting.

  • Additional indications and manifestations of GERD in babies might be:
  • unwillingness to eat gagging or choking, wet burps or hiccups, difficulty swallowing
  • agitation, back arching during or after eating, low growth, or weight loss
  • pneumonia or a recurrent cough
  • having trouble falling asleep.

Consult a physician if you think your child may have GERD or another illness.

Causes of Acid Reflux and GERD

Acid reflux is a frequent side effect of GERD and may be caused by the lower esophageal sphincter’s (LES) dysfunction.

At the end of your esophagus lies a circular band of muscle called the LES. It loosens up and expands during swallowing to let liquids and food pass from your mouth into your stomach. It then constricts and shuts once again.

When your LES does not seal or tighten correctly, acid reflux occurs. This permits the contents of your stomach, including digestive fluids, to ascend into your esophagus. [ 2 ]

Your LES may not function properly if you:

Have a hiatal hernia: This happens when the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the chest. Your LES may not work correctly if your diaphragm is affected.

Eating heavy meals frequently: This might lead to distension in the upper portion of your stomach. This distension might occasionally indicate inadequate pressure on the LES, causing improper closure.

Lie down too soon after eating: the LES may not get enough pressure to operate as intended.

Heartburn that occurs more frequently than twice a week may also be caused by additional variables, such as those mentioned below.

Lifestyle factors

The following lifestyle choices may be linked to recurrent reflux and esophageal inflammation:

  • smoking, being around smoke,
  • consuming big meals right before bed, and
  • abusing a lot of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin

Health Factors

The following medical conditions might be a contributing cause of GERD:

  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • connective tissue disorders
  • older age

Additional circumstances

The following other medical disorders may exacerbate GERD symptoms:

  • Pregnancy
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Irritable bowel syndrome


Research indicates that alcohol use may raise the chance of developing GERD. The association increases with the amount and frequency of alcohol usage.

If you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, cutting back on or quitting alcohol may help with symptoms.

Dietary triggers

Compared to other foods, the following may cause GERD symptoms more frequently:

  • meals heavy in fat, like fried and quick food
  • hot dishes
  • certain fruits and vegetables, such as citrus, tomatoes, and pineapple
  • certain liquids, including tea, coffee, and carbonated beverages.


To evaluate your symptoms, a doctor would usually ask about your medical history and do a physical examination.

If you exhibit warning signs like dysphagia or chest discomfort, they could recommend that you see a gastroenterologist or order certain tests, such as:

Ambulatory 24-hour pH probe: A little tube is put into your esophagus through your nose. The amount of acid exposed to your esophagus is measured by a pH sensor at the tube’s tip, which transmits the information to a portable computer. This tube is worn for around a whole day.

Esophagram: Using X-ray imaging, medical personnel inspect your upper digestive tract after you swallow a barium solution.

Upper endoscopy: To inspect and, if necessary, take a tissue sample (biopsy), a flexible tube fitted with a small camera is inserted into your esophagus.

Esophageal manometry: This procedure gauges the strength of your esophageal muscles by inserting a flexible tube through your nose and into your esophagus.

Esophageal pH monitoring: Over a few days, a sensor is placed into your esophagus to enable medical specialists to determine how your body regulates acid.

Your doctor will consult with you to determine the best course of action following the diagnosis.

Treatment for Acid Reflux and GERD

Lifestyle strategies

Some lifestyle changes and at-home treatments can help control and reduce GERD symptoms. These include:

  • breathing techniques
  • eating foods and drinks that may assist with acid reflux
  • trying to keep a healthy weight, giving up smoking,
  • If applicable, avoid large, heavy meals in the evening.
  • waiting two to three hours after eating
  • sleeping with your head up throughout the night

Complications of untreated GERD

Most people with GERD don’t have significant side effects.

Rarely, though, it might result in major or perhaps fatal health issues like:

  • Barrett’s esophagus can cause permanent changes to the lining of your esophagus.
  • including esophagitis (inflammation of your esophagus),
  • esophageal stricture (narrowing or tightening of your esophagus),
  • esophageal cancer (affecting a small percentage of people with Barrett’s esophagus),
  • tooth enamel erosion, gum disease, or other dental issues.

Treating, managing, and preventing GERD symptoms are crucial strategies to reduce your risk of problems.


If you occasionally get heartburn, you’re not the only one. Generally, these infrequent occurrences may be adequately addressed with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter drugs.
However, you could have GERD if you get heartburn more than twice a week, and modest lifestyle adjustments aren’t relieving the problem.
If you are diagnosed with GERD, your physician will assist you in determining the best course of therapy.
Don’t let chronic heartburn prevent you from going about your daily activities. If you think you could be experiencing GERD symptoms, consult a physician.

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