Acid reflux disease and GERD

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Approximately one third of all people experience heartburn on occasion. Thus, it is arbitrary to decide when heartburn should be called acid reflux disease. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this is a chronic irritation of the lining of the esophagus by gastric acid (or another irritating refluxed substance). Usually the symptoms are self-limited and respond to over-the-counter measures. GERD can, however, have serious consequences, including esophagitis and Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a condition that increases the likelihood of esophageal cancer.


Patients with acid reflux disease often have some or all of the following symptoms: (a) pain when swallowing; (b) bad breath and/or bad taste in the mouth; (c) burping; (d) chest pain; (e) heartburn; (f) hoarseness; (g) regurgitation; and (h) sore throat. To diagnose acid reflux disease, symptoms must be present at least twice a week on a regular basis.

Diagnostic testing

1. Barium esophagram or Upper GI X-Ray - Provides an outline the anatomy of the upper digestive tract. 2. Upper endoscopy - Provides direct visualization of the esophagus, the stomach; It also provides an opportunity to obtain direct tissue sample. 3. Esophageal Manometry and/or Esophageal pH measurements - Involves inserting a small flexible tube into the esophagus and stomach in order to measure pressures and function of the esophagus. This test estimates the degree of the material refluxed into the esophagus.

Notes & References

[1] American College of Gastroenterology. Common Gastrointestinal Problems: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Available online at:

Credits & Notices

Authors-contributors to this page (listed alphabetically, last name, first & middle initial only, no institutional affiliations, no scientific titles):

Stawicki SP

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