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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

What is GER?

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus—the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.

GER is also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation because the stomach’s digestive juices contain acid. Sometimes people with GER can taste food or acidic fluid in the back of the mouth. Refluxed stomach acid that touches the lining of the esophagus can cause heartburn. Also called acid indigestion, heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning feeling in the midchest, behind the breastbone, or in the upper part of the abdomen—the area between the chest and the hips.

Occasional GER is common. People may be able to control GER by

  • avoiding foods and beverages that contribute to heartburn, such as chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy or spicy foods, tomato products, and alcoholic beverages
  • avoiding overeating
  • quitting smoking
  • losing weight if they are overweight
  • not eating 2 to 3 hours before sleep
  • taking over-the-counter medications

Read more about over-the-counter medications in the section “How is GERD t