Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)!

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, refers to the rise of stomach fluids into the esophagus during or after a meal, and because these fluids are acidic, they create a burning sensation and a tingling aftertaste.

GERD  is defined as the regurgitation of gastric content in the esophagus which results in esophagitis. It is characterized as a disease when it causes damage to the esophagus or affects the quality of life with two or more episodes of epigastric heartburn weekly. It is the second most common disease of our digestive system after irritable bowel syndrome and occurs in almost equal proportions to men and women.

At the entrance of the stomach there is a valve, a ring-shaped muscle called cardioesophageal sphincter. Normally, this muscle closes as soon as the food passes through it. But if it does not work properly or if it opens very often, then acid produced in the stomach can move up in the esophagus. This can cause symptoms such as burning and pain (heartburn). If the symptoms of this condition occur more than twice a week, there may be gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is also known as acid reflux.

The most common cause of  cardioesophageal sphincter relaxation is the diaphragmatic hernia, a medical condition which appears when the stomach rises above the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a powerful muscle that divides the body in two compartments, the chest (thorax) and the abdomen. The diaphragm also has a basic opening through which the esophagus is brought from chest to the abdomen and is joined to the stomach. The laxity or anatomical anomaly of it that may be present, and in which this opening allows the displacement of the stomach into the chest, is called diaphragmatic hernia. When the stomach enters the chest, then the cardioesophageal sphincter cannot perform its function to prevent the entry of gastric content into the esophagus, thereby triggering gastroesophageal reflux.

GERD relationship has been demonstrated with obesity, pregnancy and eating habits. However, it can also occur from birth in case a weak cardioesophageal sphincter may exist, by taking some medication, as well as with smoking or alcohol consumption.

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