Acid reflux is a very common condition. It is characterized by a burning pain, known as heartburn, felt internally around the lower chest area. It is caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the food pipe.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is diagnosed when acid reflux occurs more than twice a week.
Acid reflux is when some of the acid content of the stomach flows up into the esophagus - into the gullet, which moves food down from the mouth. Despite the name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart.
The stomach contains a strong acid - hydrochloric acid - to help break down food and protect against pathogens such as bacteria.
The lining of the stomach is specially adapted to protect it from the powerful acid, but the esophagus is not protected.
A ring of muscle - the gastroesophageal sphincter - normally acts as a valve that lets food into the stomach but not back up into the esophagus. When this valve fails, and stomach contents are regurgitated into the esophagus, the symptoms of acid reflux are felt, such as heartburn.
Exact figures vary but acid reflux is considered very common, and diseases resulting from acid reflux are the most common gut complaint seen by United States hospital departments.
The American College of Gastroenterology says that over 60 million Americansexperience heartburn at least once a month, and at least 15 million as often as daily.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease has the highest rates in Western countries, affecting an estimated 20-30 percent of the population.
Although acid reflux is common and not dangerous, chronic heartburn can lead to serious complications.
We all may experience acid reflux occasionally, often associated with certain food and drink. Recurrent acid reflux that leads to disease has other causes and risk factors and is termed gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is seen in people of all ages, sometimes for unknown reasons (idiopathic). Often, the cause is attributable to a lifestyle factor, but it can also be due to causes that cannot always be prevented.
One such cause of GERD is a hiatal (or hiatus) hernia. This is an anatomical abnormality where a hole in the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to enter the chest cavity, sometimes leading to GERD. Pregnancy can also cause acid reflux due to extra pressure being placed on the internal organs.
Acid reflux, whether it is a harmless, isolated episode of the sort we all experience at some point, or the persistent problem of gastroesophageal reflux disease, usually produces the same main symptom: Heartburn.
Heartburn is a discomfort - happening in the esophagus and felt behind the breastbone area - that takes the form of a burning sensation; it generally gets worse when the person lies down or bends over. It can last for several hours and also tends to worsen after eating food.
The pain of heartburn may move up toward the neck and throat; stomach fluid can reach the back of the throat in some cases, producing a bitter or sour taste.
If heartburn occurs regularly - two or more times a week - it is termed gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD for short. GERD can also have other symptoms, including:
Dry, persistent cough
Asthma and recurrent pneumonia
Difficulty or pain when swallowing
Chest or upper abdominal pain
Talk to your doctor about treatment options. We offer a compound medication that is very effective in the treatment of Gerd. (Acid Reflux)
Print this form to take to your doctor to fill out and fax to our pharmacy.