An Introduction to Acid Reflux Disease
Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, affects millions of people. Many have occasional heartburn, but acid reflux disease should only be diagnosed if the heartburn has been affecting your lifestyle for long periods of time due to severe chronic conditions. If you have heartburn twice or more a week for at least 12 weeks, there is usually a good chance your diagnosis is GERD. Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what causes acid reflux disease, but a lot of information is available at your doctor’s office and on the Internet.
The good news is that acid reflux disease is a very manageable condition, but it can lead to potentially serious chronic illnesses. There are many options available when it comes to treatment options. The most commonly recommended options are lifestyle changes, medical treatments, stress management, and / or a combination of all strategies.
What is Acid Reflux Disease?
Acid reflux disease is a chronic condition in which stomach acid is flushed back into the esophagus and causes severe discomfort. Stomach acid burns the lining of the esophagus due to a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES acts as a valve between your stomach and esophagus. The valve is used to open and let food into the stomach and then close it to protect the esophagus from acids. However, if the LES doesn’t close properly, acid rushes up or refluxes up, covering the esophagus and causing a burning sensation.
Remember that it is normal to have acid reflux (heartburn) from time to time. It is only acid reflux disease if it is a chronic condition that has been occurring frequently and over a long period of time. If you are not sure, do not hesitate to see your doctor. Another thing to keep in mind is that heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. It feels that way sometimes because the esophagus is behind the heart.