Also known as acid reflux, GERD occurs when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. The stomach entrance has a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This valve closes once food passes through it. If the LES doesn’t close completely or opens, acid from the stomach moves into the esophagus, causing symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, and an acid taste. While most people experience occasional heartburn, anyone who has symptoms two or time a week may have GERD.
Common triggers include eating spicy meals or overeating. Drinking excessive amounts of carbonated drinks, tea, coffee or alcohol also contributes to the condition. In most cases a change in lifestyle combined with over-the-counter antacids effectively treats GERD. If symptoms continue, a doctor may recommend prescription medications or surgery.