Definition of Reflux disease, gastroesophageal (GERD)
Reflux disease, gastroesophageal (GERD): The stomach contents regurgitate and back up (reflux) into the esophagus The food in the stomach is partially digested by stomach acid and enzymes. Normally, the partially digested acid content in the stomach is delivered by the stomach muscle down into the small intestine for further digestion. With esophageal reflux, stomach acid content refluxes back up into the esophagus, occasionally reaching the breathing passages, causing inflammation and damage to the esophagus, as well as to the lung and larynx (the voice box).
10% of patients with GERD develop Barrett's esophagus, a risk factor for cancer of the esophagus. For more information about GERD, please read the GERD article.
Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012
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