Millions of people experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) on a regular basis.
When food passes from the esophagus down into the stomach, a ring known as the lower esophageal sphincter opens up to let food in and then closes to keep it in the stomach.
If the ring is weak and does not close tightly, food and stomach acid can come back up into the esophagus, resulting in mucosal changes and symptoms of heartburn.
Here are five facts about GERD you may not know:
Experts say acid reflux—when stomach acids bubble up into your esophagus and throat—is one of the most common health conditions in the US. Almost all of us experience it from time to time, and its hallmark symptom is a burning sensation in your chest or throat.
But reflux can cause other symptoms—including a handful that may surprise you, says Joseph Murray, MD, a GI doctor and researcher at Mayo Clinic. “I also see reflux being blamed for symptoms that have nothing to do with it,” Murray adds. (Heal your whole body with Rodale’s 12-day liver detox for total body health.)
Here are the unexpected signs you might be suffering from acid reflux—and some other symptoms you should NOT blame on unruly stomach acids.
You probably hear a lot about acid reflux, or perhaps you suffer from it yourself. But what exactly is acid reflux? Well, right at your stomach opening is a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Normally, the LES opens and closes as it’s supposed to, but sometimes it messes up. When that happens, your stomach acid can occasionally escape and flow backwards — that is, up into your esophagus — and if you’ve ever experienced reflux, you know you’re left with some pretty uncomfortable feelings. Not only is it acutely painful, but it can lead to serious health consequences.
When you think about the causes of damaged teeth, you probably think about things like sugary foods or bad dental hygiene. However, as a dentist, one of the most common causes of damaged teeth I see is acid reflux.
Acid reflux is a condition that is exactly as it sounds. It’s when acid from the digestive system enters the esophagus causing discomfort. When it becomes more severe, it falls under a broader condition called GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease).
Some symptoms include:
- heartburn (chest pain after eating)
- acid reflux (where stomach acid comes back up into your mouth and causes an unpleasant, sour taste)
- sore throat
- bad breath
- bloating and belching
- tooth erosion or acid wear
- pain when swallowing
“Acid reflux occurs when there is acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus…The foods you eat affect the amount of acid your stomach produces. So eating the right kinds of food is key to controlling acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a severe, chronic form of acid reflux.” – Healthline.com
We all have experienced the lovely feelings of acid reflux. The regurgitation of soured food and the burning sensation that seems to travel from your chest, through the throat, and into your mouth.
There’s nothing worse than enjoying a satisfying meal only to have it ruined by an unwelcome second course — uncontrollable stomach acid.
It’s a problem that 20 percent of adults worldwide deal with at some point or another. But if you’re feeling the irritating burn of stomach acid more than twice a week, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic disease where stomach acid creeps up your windpipe and damages its lining.
If you have GERD, you may feel burning in your chest, a sour or acidic taste in your mouth or like there’s food stuck in the back of your throat. You may even regurgitate some of your food.
Have you experienced a burning sensation that rises from your abdomen and reaches your throat through your chest? This condition is known as heart-burn, or more commonly, acidity.
Most people suffer from acidity occasionally. It mostly happens after consuming a large meal with high fat content, food that increases acidity in the stomach, or after laying down too quickly after eating.
But, if you are reaching out for an antacid every other week, it is a huge red flag. More often than not, when you continue experiencing acidity symptoms on a regular basis, it turns out to be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
It is a condition where acid from the stomach comes up into the food pipe (esophagus). GERD, when left untreated, can result in serious life-threatening complications, including esophageal cancer.
Ever since I started an online community and a foundation for treatment-resistant depression — depression and anxiety that don’t respond to psychotropic medications — I’ve been inundated with mail from desperate people who have tried 30 to 40 different kinds of antidepressants, and feel no relief. I repeatedly hear from family members of folks who have tried everything, and are not getting better. I sense the utter frustration and despair in their words, and it pains me. I, too, felt hopeless after trying countless medication combinations and sitting through years of psychotherapy sessions, only to continue my death obsessions.
I wish I could respond to each person individually — spend an hour on the phone with them, begging them not to give up because they won’t always feel this way. Unfortunately, I can’t (step six). So the next best thing is to outline these nine basic steps for people who are treatment-resistant, because these actions, more than any medication I have tried in the last seven years, have helped me emerge from the other side of depression. I’m not anti-medication by any means. Drugs serve an important purpose. But with so many people not responding, or only partially responding (myself included), I felt compelled to list the other parts of my recovery that have been critical to my wellness — things that most doctors don’t discuss. These steps didn’t fix me for good: I still have a lot of work ahead of me, and I have plenty of bad days. But now I’ve been one year without the constant death thoughts that stalked me for a good five years. And that is truly miraculous to me.
According to the author of Dr. Jonathan Wright, author of Why Stomach Acid is Good For You, more that 90% of Americans have inadequate levels of stomach acid. This condition is called hypochlorhydria.
Low stomach acid leads to a cascade of digestive problems further south in the digestion process, such as bloating, gas and constipation.
Why is it so important to heal low stomach acid? Let’s start with the all-to-common consequences of low stomach acid.