|Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused when the valve between the esophagus does not close properly and stomach acids push and irritate the delicate lining of the esophagus. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn.
Although many people have heartburn it should not be confused with GERD. Although Buffer pH+ will help with occasional heartburn attack, GERD is a chronic and serious problem.
GERD is most commonly caused when you esophageal sphincter does not close properly. This little flap is opens when you swallow and then closes. When it becomes week or too relaxed, it doesn't close properly and doesn't stop stomach acids from going to the wrong place. It is proven that certain foods may cause this tiny muscle not to relax. Foods on this list include chocolate, onions, peppermint, coffee, high-sugar foods, and possibly high-fat foods. Other foods like oranges and pizza don't relax this muscle but they do further the problem if the esophagus is already inflamed.
So now that we gave you the formal definition. Here's are the clinical terms broken out in common terms:
Heartburn, acid reflux, gastroespohageal reflux, esophagitis.....all these terms are enough to make anybody's head spin. So let's start by breaking some of this down into plain English.
What is heartburn? The term "heartburn" can mean different things to different people, but it most commonly refers to the symptoms of acid reflux or gastroespohageal reflux. Some people will also use words like dyspeptic or indigestion, although those are more generally used to describe bloating, fullness, belching or feeling like you need to belch, or nausea. Heartburn is...well, basically, it's pain. It's your esophagus crying foul. Heartburn is generally described as a burning, tight, or uncomfortable feeling in the center of the chest, behind or near the breastbone. It's pain or discomfort in the esophagus caused by the lining of the esophagus being irritated when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. The lining of the esophagus isn't designed to deal with stomach acid so, just like skinning your knee when you were a kid, the lining gets irritated and it hurts.
So what's chronic heartburn?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines chronic as "Lasting for a long period of time or marked by frequent recurrence". Heartburn is generally considered chronic if it occurs consistently 2 or more times a week. But even if it's not occuring that often for you, if it's occuring repetetively and often enough to bother you, it's worth consulting your physician.
Esophagitis is the technical term for irritation and inflammation of the esophagus. Again, it's a symptom of the problem, or a result of the problem. The repeated backup of acid into the esophagus causes the irritation and inflammation. And if left untreated, it can eventually lead to bleeding or ulcers in the esophagus and other problems.
Acid Reflux/Gastroesophageal Reflux
Ahh, now here we go. This is the what's keeping you up nights. This is what makes you wish you had stock in antacids. This is what makes you look longingly at the local pizzeria as you drive by. You may have also heard acid reflux disease or gastroesphageal reflux disease (gerd), but we'll get to those in a minute. For the moment, let's leave the disease part off the end.
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux are pretty much the same thing. Technically, one (acid reflux) refers to what is happening (acid is backing up into the esophagus) and the other (gastroesophageal reflux) refers to the system and organ being affected (the esophagus, part of the gastrointestinal system, is being irritated by the reflux of acid into it). Phew, okay, now that we got the technicalities out of the way, what IS it? (We're going to use the term acid reflux for the rest of this discussion because, hey, let's face it, it's shorter to type.) To understand what it is, let's start with a little basic biology. And I mean just a little, so hang in there. We all know that you eat by putting food in your mouth. And we know that that food then goes on to your stomach where all sorts of interesting chemical reactions go on and then the 'food' goes on to other parts of the body. For the purposes of this discussion we're not going any further than the stomach. Okay, so, you put food in your mouth and it ends up in your stomach. And how does it get to your stomach class? It travels down this nifty connecting tube called your esophagus. On a basic level, that's all your esophagus is, a road between your mouth and your stomach. (Yes, there are muscles and things involved and blah blah, we're trying to keep this simple). Now, and here's the important part, the esophagus was designed to be primarily a one way street. The food is supposed to go down and stay there. Sure, there are mechanisms for 'emergencies' to allow traffic to go the other way, but that's not supposed to happen on a regular basis. At the bottom of the tube (esophagus) there's a flap (the lower esophageal flap or lef) that's supposed to keep things that are in the stomach from getting up into the esophagus. And this little bugger is a big part of your problem. Basically, for folks who suffer from acid reflux, the flap isn't working properly and it's allowing acid to backup into the esophagus. And that irritates the esophagus and the esophagus creates pain to let you know it's irritated and you end up doing the frantic antacid dance. It's the flap's fault.
Who broke my flap and how do I fix it?
Well, um, basically, it's likely that you broke it. Hey, hey, don't shoot the messenger. But seriously, there are certain physical problems. like hiatal hernia, that can cause or contribute to an acid reflux problem. But for most folks who suffer with this it's something that developed over time.
So, what can you do to help fix it? The first thing to remember is that this is likely a problem that's been developing for awhile, so don't expect to fix it overnight. But don't be discouraged. For most people, it can be improved or cleared up. One of the keys to getting better is to stop the irritation. As long as the irritation continues, the pain will continue along with the likelihood of damage. So the first step is to prevent the reflux so that the irritation can heal. Now, one of the reasons that many people have difficulty in treating their reflux is that the recommendations they've been presented with seem unreasonable or too difficult to implement.
This is where we come in. As a long time reflux suffer, since I started this all natural homeopathic acid reflux medicine, I've been heartburn free and my reflux has healed. No nasty acid blockers, not nasty probes and surgeries. Just a few capsules a day and off I go.
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