Why Heartburn and Acid Reflux Occur and What Is GERD? – Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Have you ever wondered why heartburn and acid reflux occur and why it creates a burning sensation in your chest and makes it feel like part of your lunch is stuck in your throat? Have you ever wondered what is GERD and how does it affect you? I’ve provided some definitions below to help clear up the confusion.Although used interchangeably, there is a difference between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD (you may hear some people call it gastro reflux disease, but it’s medical term is gastroesophageal reflux disease).Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates up into the esophagus. That stomach reflux is the cause of heartburn. However, it’s possible you may feel no pain at all when stomach reflux occurs.
Heartburn (also known as pyrosis) is a sensation of tightness, pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest that can – but doesn’t always – follow an occurrence of acid reflux. Heartburn is exactly what it would feel like if acid ate away at the lining of your esophagus, because that’s what’s happening.
Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the result of frequent acid reflux. This is a chronic condition relating to the malfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (which I’ll discuss in a moment) and aggravated by lifestyle factors that include obesity, certain acidic foods, smoking, alcohol, and consumption of large meals.Heartburn is oftentimes falsely associated with a heart attack (some call it a heartburn heart attack). But in reality it has nothing to do with the heart. So where is heartburn occurring in your body and why do people get the two confused sometimes? Well the reason for the confusion is that the burning sensation is felt at the breastbone, the spot where the heart is located.¬†One way you can decipher if you’re having heartburn or a heart disease related condition such as a heart attack is that heartburn pain is less likely to be associated with physical activity. On the other hand, exercise may actually aggravate the pain experienced in a heart attack.If you thought you were the only one suffering through the pain of heartburn, you’re definitely not alone. According to studies, about 30% of adults experience occasional heartburn, while 10% experience heartburn almost every day.Heartburn is common, and an occasional episode is generally nothing to worry about. However, many people have already considered heartburn as an uncomfortable condition that requires medication or medical attention.Below is a brief overview that shows exactly why heartburn and acid reflux occur…As you eat, the food that you swallow travels from the mouth to the stomach through a hollow tube called the esophagus.
Before food enters the stomach, it must pass through a tight muscle at the lower part of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES prevents food from traveling backward into the esophagus.
Once food reaches your stomach, acid slowly digests the food. This acid is very strong and can damage most parts of the body. But fortunately, the stomach is protected from its own acid by a special mucous layer.
The esophagus, however, does not have this same mucous layer for protection. If the lower esophageal sphincter does not close completely, the lower part of the esophagus can be damaged by stomach acid. When this happens, heartburn is experienced and the miserable burning feeling begins.Heartburn usually feels like a burning chest pain beginning behind the breastbone and moving upward to the neck and throat. Many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth leaving an acidic or bitter taste.