What is Chronic Heartburn / Acid Reflux?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is commonly referred to as acid reflux or heartburn, with many patients describing their discomfort as a burning sensation in the chest or throat. Rising obesity rates and other factors like medications, pregnancy, diabetes, or poor dietary habits can aggravate acid reflux; Some studies have determined that nearly 19 million people suffer from acid reflux each year, with another estimated 60 million reporting heartburn at least once monthly. While there are a few different causes for acid reflux, the main cause of reflux is a weak esophageal sphincter. During the act of swallowing, belching, or vomiting, the lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscles that connects the esophagus and the stomach), relaxes to allow food and air to pass. When the valve does not tighten properly, stomach acid may leak into the esophagus, creating the burning sensation in the chest.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux May Include:
- Sharp chest, neck or back pain