Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 21, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963855 | Print ISBN: 9781412941860 | Online ISBN: 9781412963855| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
E. John Ly
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or chronic heartburn, is a medical condition characterized by abnormal backflow of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. It is one of the most common disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and it is estimated that 3 to 4 percent of the population has GERD, while up to 40 percent of the population experience heartburn, the most common symptom associated with GERD, at least once a month. The various causes of acid reflux generally lead to the same symptoms and can be diagnosed through a careful patient history and some diagnostic exams. Treatment ranges from conservative management through lifestyle changes, to the use of medications and potentially to surgery. Possible complications from untreated acid reflux include Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer. In normal individuals, acid is secreted in the stomach to aid in the digestion of food. This acid is usually ...