Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious form of the more common gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux.
Reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle) either opens spontaneously or else does not close properly, allowing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. This sphincter acts like a valve connecting the stomach to the esophagus, and when that valve stops working properly, reflux develops.
The digestive juices of the stomach contain powerful acid that can, over time, damage the lining of the esophagus. While reflux may occur commonly, GERD is a more serious condition that occurs more than twice a week, and can cause health problems if untreated.