Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), gastric reflux disease, or acid reflux disease
Is defined as chronic symptoms or mucosal damage produced by the abnormal reflux in the oesophagus. Acid reflux is a condition in which the contents of the stomach, be they food or liquid, leak from the stomach backward into the esophagus. One of the results of this action is the irritation of the esophagus, resulting in heartburn and other symptoms.
When you eat, food passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus. Once in the stomach, a ring of muscle fibers, called the lower esophageal sphincter, prevent food from moving backward into the esophagus. If this lower esophageal muscle doesn't close well, food, liquid, and stomach acid can leak back into the esophagus. This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. In addition to other symptoms, this may also result in an eroded esophagus.The body does have ways to protect itself from the harmful effects of reflux and acid. The salivary glands in the mouth produce saliva containing bicarbonate. With each swallow, the bicarbonate-enhanced saliva travels down the esophagus. The bicarbonate neutralizes the small amount of acid that remains in the esophagus; however, it has little effect on frequent and large amounts of reflux.
A number of drugs are approved to treat GERD, and are among the most-often-prescribed forms of medication in most Western countries. Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole, and rabeprazole, are the most effective in reducing gastric acid secretion.
These drugs stop acid secretion at the source of acid production, the proton pump. Antacids based on calcium carbonate, such as Tums, have been found to actually increase the acidity of the stomach. However, all antacids reduced acidity in the lower esophagus, so the net effect on GERD symptoms may still be positive.