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Acid reflux—the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus. Acid reflux generally occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes and allows harsh stomach juices to flow into the esophagus. It’s also known as gastroesophageal reflux.
Acid suppressors—medicines that slow down the production of acid in the stomach. Proton (or acid) pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists are the two main types of acid suppressors.
Antacids—medications commonly used for the treatment of heartburn. Antacids treat heartburn symptoms as they occur and work by neutralizing acid in the stomach for a short period of time.
Barrett’s esophagus—a condition marked by an abnormal lining of the esophagus that develops in response to acid injury. Studies indicate that this condition may be linked to an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus.
Esophageal ulcer—a sore or an erosion of the esophagus generally caused by excessive exposure to acid.
Esophagitis—an inflammation, irritation or ulceration of the lining of the esophagus. This injury is often caused by the excessive exposure of the esophagus to acid.
Esophagus—the tube-like structure that connects the mouth to the stomach and acts as a passageway for food. This organ is one of several that make up the digestive system.
Frequent heartburn—heartburn that occurs two or more days per week.
Gastric acid—another name for stomach acid that is produced by the stomach to help break down food for digestion.
Gastroenterologist—a physician who specializes in disorders and conditions of the gastrointestinal tract.
Gastroesophageal reflux—the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus. Reflux generally occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes inappropriately and allows harsh stomach juices to flow into the esophagus. Often referred to as acid reflux.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—a digestive disorder caused when the acid contents of the stomach regularly back up into the esophagus. Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, but regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, hoarseness and a feeling of a lump in the throat may be associated symptoms.
H2 blockers—a type of medication that falls into a group known as acid suppressors. These drugs prevent a substance called histamine from stimulating acid production.
Heartburn—a burning discomfort that is generally felt in the chest just behind the breastbone. The burning sensation results when harsh stomach juices come in contact with and irritate the delicate lining of the esophagus. It’s also known as acid indigestion or pyrosis.
Hiatal hernia—a condition that occurs when the upper part of the stomach moves into the chest cavity through a hole in the diaphragm, the muscle separating the stomach from the chest. Hiatal hernias do not cause heartburn, but research suggests that people with hiatal hernias may be more likely to experience heartburn episodes.
Hydrochloric acid—a powerful acid contained in stomach juices that helps the body break down food. When present in the esophagus, this acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause the sensation known as heartburn.
Lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—the natural valve that keeps stomach contents in the stomach and out of the esophagus. When working properly, this important valve operates like a door, letting food into the stomach but not back up into the esophagus.
Promotility agents—prescription medicines used in the treatment of severe heartburn or GERD. These medications help speed gastric emptying, reducing the amount of time that stomach contents stays in the stomach. They also may help strengthen the LES.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)—the most powerful type of acid suppressors. These medications work by preventing acid pumps in the stomach from producing too much acid. Also known as acid pump inhibitors.
Stomach ulcer—a sore or an erosion in the lining of the stomach generally caused by two powerful substances in stomach juices, hydrochloric acid and pepsin. A stomach ulcer is an acid-related malady and therefore shares some of the same symptoms and therapies as heartburn.