Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as chronic heartburn or Acid Reflux Disease, occurs when excess stomach acid is allowed into the esophagus because of a weakened valve in the lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach). GERD can be accompanied by a hiatal hernia, which occurs when part of the stomach sticks upward into the chest, through an opening in the diaphragm.
GERD patients commonly experience:
- Chest pain
- Excessive throat clearing
- Chronic cough
During Gastroesophageal reflux, the contents of the stomach and upper digestive tract may reflux all the way up the esophagus, beyond the upper esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle at the top of the esophagus), and into the back of the throat and possibly the back of the nasal airway. This is known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), which can affect anyone.
LPR patients commonly experience:
- Bitter taste in back of throat
- A sensation of burning, or something stuck
- Have hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Frequent throat clearing
- Feeling of drainage from the back of the nose (postnasal drip)
Some may have difficulty breathing if the voice box is affected. Many patients with LPR do not experience heartburn.