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Digestive Health

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GERD Causes & Symptoms

Causes

GERD is caused by a mechanically defective lower esophageal sphincter (malfunctioning of the valve between the esophagus and the stomach). This valve controls the passage of food from the esophagus into the stomach.

When the valve does not function well (does not close properly) food, acid and bile reflux back into the esophagus causing gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn (a burning sensation behind the breast bone)
  • Epigastric pain (upper abdominal pain)
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing, or a sensation that food is hanging up or not passing down into the stomach properly)
  • Regurgitation of food or liquids, particularly when bending over or laying down, associated with a bitter taste in the mouth

Less common symptoms of GERD include:

  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Pneumonia