An Introduction to Acid Reflux Disease
Acid reflux disease, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, afflicts millions of people. Many suffer from an occasional bout with heartburn, but acid reflux disease, as a diagnosis, should only be made if the heartburn causes impediments to your lifestyle due to severe, chronic discomfort over prolonged periods of time. Usually, if you suffer from heartburn 2 or more times per week for at least 12 weeks, there's a good chance that your diagnosis would be GERD. Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what causes acid reflux disease, but there is an ample amount of information available at your doctor's office and on the Internet.
What is Acid Reflux Disease?
Acid reflux disease is a chronic condition in which stomach acid washes back up onto the esophagus, causing severe discomfort. Stomach acid burns the esophagus lining due to a relaxed lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES acts as a valve between your stomach and the esophagus. The valve is designed to open and allow food into the stomach, and then close, protecting the esophagus from acids. However, if the LES is not closing properly, acid rushes or refluxes upward, coating the esophagus, and causes a burning sensation.
Remember that it's normal to suffer from acid reflux (heartburn) every once and awhile. It's only acid reflux disease when it's a chronic condition, happening frequently and for long periods of time. If you are unsure, don't hesitate to see your doctor. One more thing to keep in mind is that heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. It just feels that way at times because the esophagus is located behind the heart.