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What is GERD (Acid Reflux)?

Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus.
Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn, also called acid indigestion.

Does GERD have another name?

Doctors also refer to GERD as

Acid indigestion

Acid reflux

Acid regurgitation



Do you suffer from Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux can have a profound effect on your daily life. From the foods, you can or can not eat, the way you sleep, or general burning and discomfort throughout the day.

Differences between acid reflux and heartburn

Folks use the terms interchangeably, but they are actually two different conditionsWatch Dr David Samadi and Marc Siegel on Americas News Hq and Sunday House...

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, GERD-Mayo Clinic

Many people have symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, often called acid reflux. This video shows how the esophagus works and how acid can s...

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Gastroesophageal or Acid Reflux treatment | If you suffer from acid reflux, you should contact our top-rated physicians.

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a
more serious and long-lasting form of GER.

What is the difference
between GER and GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a
more serious and long-lasting form of GER

How common is GERD?

GERD affects about 20 percent of the U.S.

Who is more likely to have GERD?

Anyone can develop GERD, some for unknown reasons. You are more likely to have GERD if you are

Overweight or obese
A pregnant woman
Taking certain medicines
A smoker or regularly
exposed to secondhand

Risks of Acid Reflux (GERD)

Without treatment, GERD can sometimes cause serious complications over time, such as:


Esophagitis is inflammation in the esophagus. Adults who have chronic esophagitis over many years are more likely to develop precancerous changes in the esophagus.

Esophageal stricture

An esophageal stricture happens when your esophagus becomes too narrow. Esophageal strictures can lead to problems with swallowing.

Barrett’s esophagus

GERD can sometimes cause Barrett’s esophagus. A small number of people with Barrett’s esophagus develop a rare yet often deadly type of cancer of the esophagus.

Вooklet: Who's at risk for GERD

Respiratory problems

With GERD you might breathe stomach acid into your lungs. The stomach acid can then irritate your throat and lungs, causing respiratory problems, such as:

  • asthma —a long-lasting disease in your lungs that makes you extra
    sensitive to things that you’re allergic to
  • chest congestion, or extra fluid in your lungs
  • a dry, long-lasting cough or a sore throat
  • hoarseness—the partial loss of your voice
  • laryngitis—the swelling of your voice box that can lead to a short-term loss of your voice
  • pneumonia—an infection in one or both of your lungs—that keeps coming back
  • wheezing—a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe

If you have GERD, talk with your doctor about how to prevent or treat long-term problems.

What are the symptoms of GER and GERD?

If you have gastroesophageal reflux (GER), you may taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth.

The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn.

Other common GERD symptoms include:

  • bad breath
  • nausea
  • pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen
  • problems swallowing or painful swallowing
  • respiratory problems
  • vomiting
  • the wearing away of your teeth

Some symptoms of GERD come from its complications, including those that affect your lungs.

Booklet: Diet and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

What causes GER and GERD?

GER and GERD happen when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn’t, causing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes due to certain things, such as:

Image of a stomach with acid
  • increased pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant certain medicines, including
    • those that doctors use to treat asthma —a long-lasting disease in your lungs that makes you extra sensitive to things that you’re allergic to
    • calcium channel blockers—medicines that treat high blood pressure
    • antihistamines—medicines that treat allergy symptoms
    • painkillers
    • sedatives—medicines that help put you to sleep
    • antidepressants —medicines that treat depression
  • smoking, or inhaling secondhand smoke
  • a hiatal hernia can also cause GERD. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the opening in your diaphragm lets the upper part of the stomach move up into your chest, which lowers the pressure in the esophageal sphincter.

When should I seek a doctor’s help?

You should see a doctor if you have persistent GER symptoms that do not get better with over-the-counter medications or
change in your diet.

Call a doctor right away if you

  • vomit large amounts
  • have regular projectile, or forceful, vomiting
  • vomit fluid that is( green or yellow, looks like coffee grounds, contains blood)
  • have problems breathing after vomiting
  • have pain in the mouth or throat when you eat
  • have problems swallowing or painful swallowing
Image of Healthy and GERD Stomach

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How do doctors diagnose GER/GERD?

In most cases, your doctor diagnoses gastroesophageal reflux (GER) by reviewing your symptoms and medical history. If your symptoms don’t improve with lifestyle changes and medications, you may need testing.

If your GER symptoms don’t improve, if they come back frequently, or if you have trouble swallowing, your doctor may recommend testing
you for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What tests do doctors use to diagnose GERD?

Several tests can help a doctor diagnose GERD. Your doctor may order more than one test to make a diagnosis.

Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and biopsyIn an upper GI endoscopy, the doctor uses an endoscope (a flexible narrow camera) to see inside your upper GI tract. This procedure takes place at a hospital or an outpatient center.

Upper GI series

An upper GI series uses an xray and looks at the shape of your upper GI tract and can find problems related to GERD, such as

  • hiatal hernias
  • esophageal strictures
  • ulcers
Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring The most accurate procedure to detect acid reflux is esophageal pH and impedance monitoring. Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring measures the amount of acid in your esophagus while you do normal things, such as eating and sleeping.
Esophageal manometry Esophageal manometry measures muscle contractions in your esophagus. We may order this procedure if you’re thinking about anti-reflux surgery.

Bravo wireless esophageal pH monitoring Bravo wireless esophageal pH monitoring also measures and records the pH in your esophagus to determine if you have GERD. A doctor temporarily attaches a small capsule to the wall of your esophagus during an upper endoscopy. The capsule measures pH levels in the esophagus and transmits information to a receiver. The receiver is about the size of a pager, which you wear on your belt or waistband.

You will follow your usual daily routine during monitoring, which usually lasts 48 hours. The receiver has several buttons on it that you will press to record symptoms of GERD such as heartburn. The nurse will tell you what symptoms to record. You will be asked to maintain a diary to record certain events such as when you start and stop eating and drinking, when you lie down, and when you get back up.

To prepare for the test talk to your doctor about medicines you are taking. He or she will tell you whether you can eat or drink before the procedure. After about seven to ten days the capsule will fall off the esophageal lining and pass through your digestive tract.