Is it Heartburn or is it GERD?
by N J Howell
Related Health Information:
What Causes Gas?
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Have you dismissed chronic heartburn or acid reflux as a by-product of stress or a delicate system? Could it be more? Many people with chronic heartburn are actually suffering from a more serious condition called GERD. If you have recurrent heartburn or regurgitation, you may need to see a gastroenterologist to rule out GERD.
If you suspect you may have this health condition, you may wish to consult with a specialist. Doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ailments affecting the gastrointestinal and digestive tract are called gastroenterologists. To locate a gastroenterologist in your area, check with your general practitioner for a referral or visit the ZocDoc Website to find a gastroenterologist in your area.
What is GERD? Recurrent Heartburn Information
GERD is short for a condition officially called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. When a person has GERD, their lower esophageal sphincter doesn't close as it should which results in stomach acid leaking back into the esophagus.
Food and fluids travel from the mouth to the stomach via our esophagus. Normally, once food travels down the esophagus and passes into the stomach, it stays there. However, if the LES (which is the part of the esophagus responsible for opening and closing to let food go into the stomach and prevent food from refluxing back into the espophagus) does not work properly, then stomach acids reflux and causes irritation to the esophageal lining. It's this abnormal refluxing of stomach acids that causes the common GERD symptoms like heartburn, a burning sensation in the throat or chest area.
You should rule out Gastroesophageal reflux disease if your heartburn occurs more than twice a week. About 5 to 7 percent of the population of the world is afflicted with GERD. It is important to treat Gastroesophageal reflux disease as soon as possible because untreated GERD can lead to more serious health concerns.
What causes GERD?
The cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease is unknown but hiatal hernia is considered a factor, according to some healthcare professionals. A hiatal hernia develops when the upper part of the stomach slides above the diaphragm (muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest). A person can also develop GERD as a result of a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter caused by certain medications or pressure on the abdomen from excess body weight (obesity). In some cases gastroesophageal reflux disease could be attributed to an individuals eating pattern such as eating big meals and lying down or snacking at bedtime.
Can children have GERD?
Anyone can develop GERD including infants, pregnant women, children, and adults. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is often overlooked in infants and children. Elderly people with GERD usually have a more serious condition than younger people.
Health Care Disclaimer: The information contained in this health care article about gastroesophagael reflux disease, and attending factors such as a hiatal hernia and diet, is not intended to take the place of personal medical advice from your health care professional. Any action taken based on the contents found in this or any holistic wellbeing information on Ask A Healer is at the sole discretion of the reader. Please consult with your gastroenterologist on matters relating to your health and wellness.