Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD can be defined as troublesome symptoms sufficient to impair an individual’s quality of life, or injury or complications that result from the retrograde flow of gastric contents into the esophagus, oropharynx, and/or respiratory tract. Reflux-induced symptoms, erosive esophagitis, and long-term complications may have severely deleterious effects on daily activities, work productivity, sleep, and quality of life.1

Doctor listening to patient’s heartbeat

What is GERD?2

GERD is a chronic medical condition caused by the flow of contents from the stomach upwards into the esophagus resulting in both symptoms and complications. The most common symptoms of GERD are heartburn and regurgitation. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest behind the breastbone. Regurgitation is a feeling of fluid or food coming up into the chest. Many people experience both symptoms; however, some patients can have one without the other.

How common is GERD?2

GERD is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases. It is thought that up to 20% of the US population has GERD. Almost everyone will experience heartburn at some point, especially after a heavy meal. However, GERD is defined as frequent symptoms (two or more times a week) or when the esophagus suffers damage from reflux such as narrowing, erosions, or pre-cancerous changes. GERD is more common amongst the elderly, obese and pregnant women.

Are Acid Reflux, GERD and Heartburn the same?2

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually have very different meanings. GERD is the disease or diagnosis defined as regular symptoms caused by the flow of gastric contents into the esophagus. Heartburn is one of the symptoms of GERD. Acid reflux is the reason why patients have GERD. There is actually reflux that can be non-acidic that can be seen in GERD as well.


  1. World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guidelines GERD [Internet]. World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO). 2021 [cited 20 December 2021]. Available from:…
  2. Acid Reflux [Internet]. American College of Gastroenterology. 2021 [cited 20 December 2021]. Available from:….