Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a back flow of acid from the stomach into the food pipe(esophagus). Although” heart burn” is often used to describe a variety of digestive problems, it is most often secondary to gastroesophageal reflux disease. When you eat, food travels from your mouth to your stomach through a tube called esophagus. At the lower end of the esophagus is a small ring of muscle called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES).The LES acts like a one way valve, allowing food to pass into the stomach. Normally the LES closes immediately after swallowing to prevent back-up of stomach juices, which have high acid content, into the esophagus. GERD occurs when LES does not function properly allowing acid to flow back and burn the lower esophagus. This irritates and inflames the esophagus, causing heartburn and eventually may damage the esophagus.
GERD can afflict any person regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status. People above 40 years, however, are greater risk of acquiring the disease. Some people are born with a naturally weak LES. Others, however, fatty and spicy foods, smoking, drinking alcohol, vigorous exercises or change in the body position (bending over or lying down) may cause the LES to relax, causing reflux.