Gastro Esophageal is the medical
term used to describe the stomach and esophagus, and
reflux describes the motion of flowing back or returning.
Therefore, gastro esophageal reflux disease is the medical
term used to describe when the stomach's contents reflux
back up into the esophagus.
CausesDuring normal digestion, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) controls the contents that pass from the esophagus to the stomach. The LES closes to prevent food and acidic stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus. However, when the LES is weak or relaxes inappropriately, it allows acidic stomach contents to flow up into the esophagus. This causes irritation to the esophageal lining, and the burning sensation that most feel when experiencing GERD.
Common Signs and Symptoms-Burning sensation in the chest (heartburn) following a meal
- Dysphasia (difficulty swallowing)
- Chest discomfort and pain
- Food or acidic regurgitation
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
- Disrupted sleep
- Asthma (new or worsening)
- Chronic cough
Risk Factors that Increase the Likelihood of GERD- Obesity
- Hiatal hernia: bulge at the top of the stomach into the diaphragm
- Scleroderma, and other connective tissue disorders
- Delayed stomach emptying
GERD Aggravators- Smoking
- Eating large meals
- Eating fatty or fried foods
- Eating late at night
- Aspirin and other medications
Complications Over Time- Esophageal ulcer: An open sore can form when stomach acid wears away the tissue in the esophagus. This esophageal ulcer causes pain, bleeds, and makes swallowing difficult.
- Esophageal stricture: Scar tissue forms as a result from stomach acid damaging the lower esophagus. The scar tissue leads to difficulty swallowing, because it narrows the food pathway.
- Barrett's esophagus: Precancerous changes can occur due to acidic damage to the lower esophagus. These changes increase the risk of esophageal cancer.