What is GERD? This acronym stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It's a condition that occurs when the acid contents in the stomach reflux into the esophagus, irritating and burning the delicate tissue found there.

How many people have symptoms of GERD? More than 20 million people in the US suffer from symptoms of heartburn daily. There are no doubt many more who do not visit a doctor to report them.

Is heartburn the same thing as GERD? Heartburn is just one of the many symptoms of GERD. Others include regurgitation, coughing, hoarseness, chest pains, asthma, and difficulty swallowing. Heartburn, however, is the most common symptom.

What are the possible complications of untreated GERD? If untreated, GERD can develop into esophagitis, ulcers, Barrett's esophagus, or even esophageal adenocarcinoma. Don't wait to get treated.

Is GERD the result of poor eating habits? Poor eating habits can trigger GERD. It is caused by a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter valve that doesn't close tightly, by delayed emptying in your stomach, or by a slow motility that keeps acid in your esophagus a long time.

What is a possible side effect of long-term use of antacids? Long term use of calcium-based antacids can affect your kidneys, while those with bicarbonate can build up sodium in your system. Both can mask your true condition of GERD and delay getting a proper diagnosis of GERD.

What treatment is available for GERD? The treatment used today to treat GERD includes lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery.

Does smoking hurt you if you have GERD? Yes, smoking lowers the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter valve. It also reduces the amount of saliva that is meant to dilute any acid present in the esophagus.

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