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An Overview of Heartburn and GERD

Aug 17, 2007
GERD is an acronym which stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. GERD, which is commonly referred to as acid reflux, is a common medical condition not only in the United States, but around the world. GERD occurs when lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for keeping the stomach and esophagus separated, relaxes and allows contents from the stomach to reenter the stomach. The contents, because they are coming from the stomach, are extremely acidic and cause a burning sensation throughout the esophagus, hence the term "heartburn." GERD has a handful of symptoms that most sufferers experience at least occasionally. In addition to the sensation of heartburn, most sufferers experience problems such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, chest pains or sinusitis. Although it is normally just a discomfort, GERD can have some serious long-term effects.

For those who are frequent GERD sufferers or have severe cases of this condition, GERD can cause potential health risks. In addition to being extremely uncomfortable, this contents which come up from the stomach into the esophagus can cause damage. Because it is so acidic, this stomach substance can gradually eat away at the lining of the esophagus. In rare cases, GERD has been shown to actually cause esophageal cancer.

Now that you know the effects of GERD, you are probably wondering what you can do to avoid them. The answer to this question depends on your situation. The first step that any GERD sufferer can take to avoid future problems is identifying what normally triggers the problem. For some, it may be easiest to keep a food journal. This allows you to have a written record of what caused your symptoms to flare up. For others, just being conscious and remembering the foods that normally cause flare ups is enough. Once you have identified the normal triggers of your GERD, you should try as hard as possible to avoid these foods. If you forget to do so or your GERD flares up for other reasons, there are still alternate courses of action that you can take.

If avoiding an episode fails, the next best thing you can do is treat the problem when it arises. For many, this involves nothing more than taking an antacid during the course of a GERD outbreak. For others, this solution may not be sufficient. In that case, you will need to consult your doctor about the kind of medicines you should be taking to treat your more severe case of GERD.

GERD is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. Whether you experience mild or severe GERD, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are doctors and friends alike who can help you and support you during your times of need.
About the Author
Detailed information about heartburn and acid reflux can be found at http://www.stopheartburn.org.uk
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