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Brief Explanation of What is GERD?

There are many words thrown to describe this condition and that is a part of the confusion. Whether you call it heartburn, GERD, reflux or acid reflux it does not matter, as it is the same exact thing. What I want you to take away is that any information that you come across which pertains to any of the above is worth checking out since you have it. 

It all starts with a meal that is chewed and makes its way down to the stomach. That food is then worked on in order to break it down to extract any nutrients, vitamins and what have you. If what you just ate is calorie heavy fast food than all that energy spent does not get replaced with anything worthwhile. Since the stomach isn’t strong enough to do all of the work by itself, it produces gastric juices and enzymes which relieve some of the muscular action by helping out. The most notable ones are pepsin and hydrochloric acid which directly break down the contents.

If everything is working correctly than the sphincter stays closed to stop the food from wondering in the wrong direction and escaping its fate. The sphincter is located between the lower esophageal sphincter or LES which is also called the stomach and the esophagus, also known as the throat. It should only open when the food is coming down and as long as it does we have no worries.

In heartburn, this activity changes. The pain comes from excess acid splashing past an inhibited, malfunctioning or weakened LES. This either happens during the actual digestion or after the food has made its way out of the stomach. There are many reasons why the sphincter can become damaged but the results experienced are the same. The acid goes up into throat and irritates the mucosa, which is the most sensitive lining of the esophagus.

This activity is one with such strong erosive qualities that the mucosa cannot withstand it and can become very damaged over time. It can have erosions, scar tissue or inflammation and if left untreated long enough turn into esophageal cancer. The statistics here are not great and it is better to make some lifestyle changes and get out of the harm’s way as it is not a chance you want to take.