What is Reflux/GERD?

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition where contents that belong in the stomach reflux up into the esophagus causing a variety of troublesome symptoms including heartburn. This reflux occurs due to a weakness in the barrier function of the muscle between the stomach and esophagus. 

Types of Reflux/GERD

Approximately 30 percent of the adult population suffers from some type of GERD. This disease can be characterized by classic symptoms of GERD (heartburn) or other mysterious symptoms that may or may not be immediately identified as Reflux disease. The types of GERD fall into a few main classifications:

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a chronic condition that develops when gastric contents in the stomach reflux back into the esophagus causing typical symptoms of heartburn or acid regurgitation. This reflux may appear with or without mucosal erosions or relevant complications.

Non-erosive Reflux Disease (NERD)

NERD is a subcategory of GERD characterized by reflux-related symptoms in the absence of esophageal erosions/breaks as seen on conventional endoscopy. NERD patients are often less responsive to PPI therapy.

Extra Esophageal Reflux

When GERD manifests itself atypically as respiratory, laryngopharyngeal (LPR), nasopharyngeal, cardiac or silent symptoms it is often referred to as EER – extra esophageal reflux. Some of these atypical symptoms may include:

  • Laryngitis-Chronic Cough-Hoarseness or Voice Disturbances
  • Bronchitis and/or Asthma
  • Recurrent Pneumonia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Acid erosion of teeth
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm

All forms of extra esophageal reflux are the result of the rapid transit of gastric contents to the esophagus, and up into the larynx, bronchi, lungs, or sinuses. This type of reflux may be in association with any of the other prior mentioned appearances of reflux disease in the esophagus, or the esophagus may be entirely normal appearing.

Silent Reflux is reflux that doesn’t produce typical symptoms – this condition has been called the “Silent Killer” because undiagnosed chronic reflux can lead to Barretts Esophagus or esophageal cancer.

Barrett’s Esophagus (BE)

Barrett’s Esophagus is thought to be a result of chronic GERD and is a coexisting condition associated with reflux that may be found anywhere within the body of the esophagus, but is usually in the lower portion of the esophagus near the EG junction.  BE usually develops as a result of mucosal destruction and tissue transformation associated with acid or bile damage to the esophageal tissue. Left untreated, or if unrecognized, Barrett’s can be associated with the development of esophageal cancer.

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