Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus). This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of your esophagus.

Many people experience acid reflux from time to time. GERD is mild acid reflux that occurs at least twice a week, or moderate to severe acid reflux that occurs at least once a week.
Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need stronger medications or surgery to ease symptoms.
Common signs and symptoms of GERD include:

If you have nighttime acid reflux, you might also experience:

When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if you also have shortness of breath, or jaw or arm pain. These may be signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you:
Experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms
Take over-the-counter medications for heartburn more than twice a week

GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux.
When you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow into your stomach. Then the sphincter closes again.
If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.
Risk factors
Conditions that can increase your risk of GERD include:

Factors that can aggravate acid reflux include:

Over time, chronic inflammation in your esophagus can cause:

Your doctor might be able to diagnose GERD based on a physical examination and history of your signs and symptoms.
To confirm a diagnosis of GERD, or to check for complications, your doctor might recommend:

Your doctor is likely to recommend that you first try lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications. If you don't experience relief within a few weeks, your doctor might recommend prescription medication or surgery.
Over-the-counter medications
The options include:

Prescription medications
Prescription-strength treatments for GERD include:

Surgery and other procedures
GERD can usually be controlled with medication. But if medications don't help or you wish to avoid long-term medication use, your doctor might recommend:

Lifestyle and home remedies
Lifestyle changes may help reduce the frequency of acid reflux. Try to:

Alternative medicine
No alternative medicine therapies have been proved to treat GERD or reverse damage to the esophagus. Some complementary and alternative therapies may provide some relief, when combined with your doctor's care.
Talk to your doctor about what alternative GERD treatments may be safe for you. The options might include:

Preparing for your appointment
You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the digestive system (gastroenterologist).
What you can do

Questions to ask your doctor

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment anytime you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may leave time to go over points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:

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