Acid Reflux, or Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) occurs when stomach contents rise up into the esophagus, according to Sri Komanduri, MD MS Interventional Gastroenterology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.
Dr. Komanduri was speaking before a Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®.
He said the stomach contents that could rise up into the esophagus include acid, pepsin and bile which normally aid in digestion.
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn.
If the symptoms persist for at least three months, it is called GERD.
Dr. Komanduri said that triggers and non-anatomical causes of GERD include Foods and Drinks, Caffeine, citric acid, red sauces, chocolate and alcohol, obesity, poor eating habits like eating late, eating too much at once and lying down less than three hours after eating. Pregnancy is a cause for the mother-to-be. Smoking was the final cause he listed, saying that nicotine relaxes smooth muscle.
Finally, GERD occurs in about 20 percent to 40 percent of the population.
Dr. Komanduri said that a patient should consider seeing his doctor if there is an onset of GERD after age 40. Also, if a person has symptoms every week for more than three months. ‘Alarm symptoms’ such as trouble swallowing, painful swallowing, vomiting or weight loss should all cause a doctor visit. Lastly, if there is a family history of esophageal cancer, one should see a doctor.