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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

When the valve at the end of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach) does not close all the way, stomach fluid can leak back into the esophagus.  If this happens more than 2 times a week, it is called GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).


  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Sour tasting fluid in the back of your mouth
  • Pain in chest
  • Hoarseness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Dry cough
  • Bad breath


No one knows why some people get GERD.  Here are some things that may add to the chance of getting GERD.

  • Alcohol use
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Hiatal Hernia (part of the stomach slides up into the chest cavity because of a defect in the diaphragm)

Foods that can cause heartburn

  • Citrus fruits like oranges
  • Chocolate
  • Drinks with caffeine like coffee or colas
  • Fatty and fried foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Mint flavor like peppermint candy
  • Spicy foods
  • Tomato-based foods like spaghetti sauce, chili and pizza


  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Lose weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid foods that cause heartburn
  • Eat small meals
  • Wear loose fitting clothes
  • Do not lie down for 3 hours after eating
  • Raise the head of your bed 6-8 inches by putting blocks of wood under the bedposts.  Just using pillows will not help.
  • Your doctor can tell you about medicines that you can take to help with GERD.
  • If the medicines do not help, your doctor may ask you to do some tests to find out why the medicine is not helping.

Why should you get treated?

  • If you don’t treat your GERD, you may get ulcers or bleeding in the esophagus.
  • Damage to the esophagus can cause scarring that may make it hard to swallow.
  • Some people may develop Barrett’s Esophagus which can lead to cancer.