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GERD is an abbreviation for the common disorder gastroesophageal reflux disease. The word "gastro" refers to the stomach, "esophageal" refers to the long, muscular tube that connects your mouth to your stomach, and "reflux" means the backward flow of liquids.

GERD happens when the muscle at the base of the esophagus opens up at the wrong time and allows the contents of the stomach to splash up into the esophagus. When these acidic juices come into contact with the sensitive lining of the esophagus, a burning sensation may result. Heartburn and an "acid mouth" are other symptoms of reflux disease. Many also visit an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor because of hoarseness or swallowing difficulties related to GERD. In fact, 10% of all patients who have GERD do not have typical heartburn symptoms and only have the latter two complaints.

Ordinarily, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle (a strong, ring-like muscle just above the stomach) acts like a one-way valve and usually only opens to let food into the stomach. But when the LES opens at the wrong time or is rendered dysfunctional by a hiatal hernia, acid reflux can result.

Common Causes of GERD

  • Large meals, especially within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Fried foods and fatty foods.
  • Chocolate, peppermint, alcohol, cigarette smoking, coffee, caffeinated beverages, beer, milk.
  • Being overweight.

What can you do to control GERD?


  • Avoid the foods and beverages that cause GERD.
  • Eat small meals high in protein and carbohydrates.
  • Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime.


  • Lose weight.
  • Cut down or quit smoking.


  • Keep the head of your bed elevated 4 to 6 inches with blocks, bricks or books.
  • Elevating the head of the bed is the simplest way to reduce nighttime episodes.


  • Take antacids as directed on bottle.
  • Take the medications prescribed by your doctor.