Acid reflux disease, commonly known as GERD, is a condition affecting millions of people. It occurs when stomach acid used for digestion repeatedly backs up, or refluxes, into the oesophagus. The lower oesophagal sphincter (LES), which is located at the bottom of the oesophagus, creates a barrier between the stomach and oesophagus.
If the LES doesn’t close tightly enough or relaxes too often, powerful stomach acid can repeatedly back up into the oesophagus. Unlike the stomach, which has a special lining protecting it from the acid, the esophagus is more sensitive to stomach acid and, with repeated exposure, may become irritated and eventually damaged. The result of this exposure may be a painful, burning feeling often called heartburn. Many people get heartburn on occasion. But persistent heartburn two or more days a week despite treatment and diet changes could be acid reflux disease.
Acid reflux disease is often a chronic condition that can lead to serious complications over time. And since acid reflux disease affects different people in different ways it’s important to talk to your doctor. Only your doctor can diagnose acid reflux disease and determine if there is any damage to your oesophagus.