What is Acid Reflux? Understanding the Basics of GERD


Stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus is referred to as acid reflux, commonly known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The esophagus lining is less sturdy than the stomach lining, hence stomach acid can cause irritation and damage to the esophagus.[National Library of Medicine]

GERD is caused by multiple distinct factors, which may be intrinsic, structural, or both, leading to the disruption of the esophagogastric junction. [National Library of Medicine]

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GERD is divided into three main phenotypes based on endoscopic and histopathologic appearance: – Non-erosive reflux disease (NERD)  – Erosive esophagitis (EE)  – Barrett esophagus (BE) (Source: National Library of Medicine)

NERD is the most common phenotype seen in 60-70% of patients followed by EE and BE seen in 30% and 6-12% of patients with GERD. (Source: National Library of Medicine)

Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, chest pain, and a bitter taste in the mouth.

Certain foods and drinks, such as spicy foods, fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol, can trigger acid reflux symptoms.

Treatment options for acid reflux include lifestyle changes, such as eating smaller meals and avoiding trigger foods, and consuming medications.

GERD can also cause complications such as esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, and even esophageal cancer.

To avoid long-term damage, GERD complications should be quickly identified, diagnosed, and treated.