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GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. When this acid touches the sensitive tissue of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation known as heartburn. Occasional heartburn is normal. If it occurs more than twice a week, you may have GERD. This disease affects all ages, but overweight people and pregnant women are particularly susceptible because of the pressure on their stomachs. In infants and children, GERD may present with vomiting, coughing, sore throat and ear infections. Most infants will outgrow this by age one.

Alcohol, smoking, caffeine, spicy foods and excess weight all may contribute to this condition. While most people with GERD respond to a combination of lifestyle changes and medication, occasionally surgery is recommended. In addition to persistent heartburn and nausea, other symptoms include pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing, dry cough, bad breath, and the feeling of food stuck in the throat.

If left untreated, GERD can lead to other medical problems such as ulcers, esophageal cancer, cough, and inflammation of the throat and larynx.