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GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
Introduction & Overview
Regurgitation or reflux of the contents of stomach into the esophagus due to improper closure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is called Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a ring of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus acting like a valve between the esophagus and stomach.
The refluxed stomach acid causes burning sensation in the throat or chest called heartburn. Occasional heartburn is not GERD and need not be viewed seriously, but heartburn occurring more than twice a week is considered as serious and can lead to complications in future (1).
The refluxed liquid contains acid, pepsin and bile that are produced by the stomach. Pepsin initiates the digestion of proteins in stomach. Bile is refluxed from duodenum into the stomach. Pepsin and bile may damage the esophagus (esophagitis) (2).
Studies indicate that more than 15 million Americans suffer from symptoms of heartburn daily and more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn once a month (3).
Article by Kona Vishnu, MS
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