Most of us are no strangers to heartburn — we’ve experienced that discomfort and chest tightness after a rich meal or during pregnancy. But for people with acid reflux, that feeling is a regular, even daily, occurrence with serious side effects.
"Gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD] or acid reflux occurs the moment that the quantity of gastric juices that reflux into the esophagus exceed normal limits, causing symptoms to appear with or without injury to the esophageal tissue or esophagitits,” says Alina Baciu, a general surgery resident and editor at Try Healthier.
Those normal limits could be exceeded because of problems with any part of the system controlling the drainage of gastric juice.
"Imagine the esophagus, the stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter as one drainage system,” says Baciu. "The esophagus being the pump, the esophageal sphincter the valve and the stomach the reservoir. If any of these three components do not perform at optimal levels, the gastric juice will not be able to evacuate properly, resulting in acid reflux."
If you suspect that you have something more than heartburn, see a physician right away. However, there are lifestyle factors that can reduce your symptoms and complications, as well as medication that may be helpful. Read on for 15 things you should know about the chronic digestive disorder acid reflux or GERD, from what it feels like to how to treat it.