What Is GERD?

Posted on: 11 September 2019

A lot of people tend to use heartburn and GERD interchangeably, but the fact is that they are different things. Heartburn is something that most people will deal with at some point in time. It happens because stomach acid bubbles up into the esophagus, which causes that burning situation. There are a lot of things that can cause heartburn, including spicy foods and pregnancy. GERD is something different and more severe. 


GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It involves more than just the stomach, and it is a chronic disorder. People who have problems with GERD can experience symptoms multiple times a week. What happens is that the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus starts to weaken, which allows acid to bubble up into the esophagus on a regular basis. That ring of muscle is supposed to stay nice and tight and let food and drink go into the stomach, but not let anything come out. But the more that acid starts to work against the esophagus the more that it destroys that sphincter, which causes the situation to get even worse. There are several problems that GERD can cause. 

Chronic Cough

Most people don't realize it, but GERD can cause a chronic cough. The reason for that is because the acid will get all the way up through the esophagus and into the throat, voice box, and the top of the throat, near the windpipe. The acid can irritate and damage those areas and can cause a persistent, dry cough. People who have asthma might confuse it with an asthmatic cough because it can feel the same. There are ways that you can handle the cough and treat your GERD id you have it, including doing things like raising your head at night when you are sleeping. That way, the acid can't track up through your esophagus. 

Enamel Destruction

Another problem that GERD can cause is the weakening and destruction of the enamel of your teeth. While the enamel of your teeth is strong, it's not designed to handle the repeated exposure to stomach acid. You might not notice the damage at first, because it will start to show up on your back teeth and the backside of your front teeth before it starts to show up on the more visible parts of your teeth. Your dentist should be able to see the damage, so it's important to see your dentist regularly. 

If you have heartburn very frequently, then you need to go see a doctor soon, to see if your heartburn is actually the early stages of GERD so that you can get started on GERD treatment.