GERD Treatment
GERD Diagnosis
GERD Causes

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. GER is also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation because the stomach’s digestive juices contain acid. Sometimes people with GER can taste food or acidic fluid in the back of the mouth. Refluxed stomach acid that touches the lining of the esophagus can cause heartburn. Also called acid indigestion, heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning feeling in the midchest, behind the breastbone, or in the upper part of the abdomen—the area between the chest and the hips.

Occasional GER is common. People may be able to control GER by

  • Avoiding foods and beverages that contribute to heartburn, such as chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy or spicy foods, tomato products, and alcoholic beverages
  • Avoiding overeating
  • Quitting smoking
  • Losing weight if they are overweight
  • Not eating 2 to 3 hours before sleep
  • Taking over-the-counter medications

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious, chronic–or long lasting–form of GER. GER that occurs more than twice a week for a few weeks could be GERD, which over time can lead to more serious health problems. People with suspected GERD should see a health care provider.

What are the symptoms of GERD?
The main symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn, though some adults with GERD do not have heartburn. Other common GERD symptoms include

  • A dry, chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma and recurrent pneumonia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A sore throat, hoarseness, or laryngitis—swelling and irritation of the voice box
  • Difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
  • Pain in the chest or the upper part of the abdomen
  • Dental erosion and bad breath

What are the long-term complications of GERD?
Untreated GERD can sometimes cause serious complications over time, including

  • Esophagitis—irritation of the esophagus from refluxed stomach acid that damages the lining and causes bleeding or ulcers. Adults who have chronic esophagitis over many years are more likely to develop precancerous changes in the esophagus.
  • Strictures that lead to swallowing difficulties.
  • Respiratory problems, such as trouble breathing.
  • Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by tissue similar to the lining of the intestine. A small number of people with Barrett’s esophagus develop a rare yet often deadly type of cancer of the esophagus.

A health care provider should monitor a person with GERD to prevent or treat long-term complications.