Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition in which the contents of the stomach are regurgitated into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach). This is also called “Acid Reflux.” Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus and Reflux refers to regurgitation or return of the contents. Therefore, gastroesophageal reflux is the regurgitaion of the stomach’s contents back up into the esophagus.
Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from various symptoms and indications of GERD such as heartburn or acid indigestion. Mostly, heartburn can be relieved through dietary and lifestyle changes. At times, heartburn is also believed to be caused by hiatal hernia. However, in many cases, it may require medication or surgery.
In the process of normal digestion, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) opens up and allows food to pass through to the stomach thus preventing food, acid and other juices to flow back into the esophagus.
A weak or inappropriately relaxed LES allows the stomach’s contents to flow up into the esophagus, thus causing gastroesophageal reflux.
The severity of GERD depends on level of LES dysfunction and on the type and amount of fluid brought up from the stomach and on the neutralizing effect of saliva.
Some factors that may cause GERD:
Shorter dinner to bed time
High fat diet
Lifestyle associated factors
Major life events and alcoholic events
Following are the most common symptoms for people with GERD:
Heartburn: Commonly after a meal.
Regurgitation: Regurgitation can produce a sour or bitter taste, and you may experience a “wet burp” or even vomit some contents of your stomach.
Asthma: Refluxed acid can worsen asthma by irritating the airways and the medications used to treat it can make GERD worse.
Sore Throat: If acid reflux gets past the upper esophageal sphincter, it can enter the throat (pharynx) and even the voice box (larynx), causing sore throat.
Excessive Night Cough/Excessive Dry Cough: Chronic dry cough, especially at night. GERD is a common cause of unexplained coughing. It is not clear how cough is caused or aggravated by GERD.
Sudden increase of saliva