Synonyms: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Gastric reflux
Medical Specialties: Family practice, Gastroenterology, Internal medicine
GERD, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a digestive disorder that causes gastric contents to reflux from the stomach back up to the esophagus, and usually occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter muscle fails to contract properly. Prolonged exposure to gastric contents can lead to complications and esophageal tissue damage, such as erosive esophagitis and Barrett’s esophagus.
GERD is a very common medical condition in which digestive acids travel from the stomach up to the esophagus, causing heartburn. Normally, a band of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus opens, so food and liquids creep along to the stomach. The muscle then closes in order to prevent stomach acids from migrating back up. When GERD develops, this band does not close properly, and stomach acids flow to the esophagus.
After repeated exposure to stomach acid, complications can develop like damage to the lining of the esophagus. In addition, a pre-cancerous condition referred to as Barrett’s esophagus may occur.