Fisichella (2008) defined the Gastroesophageal reflux disease – commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux – as a normal physiological occurrence experienced occasionally by most people, usually after eating. For a more intensive understanding of GERD, Marks (2009) explained it as a condition wherein the liquid content of the stomach is secreted or spewed into the esophagus. (The esophagus is an organ with a muscular tube through which food passes from the pharynx to the stomach)This liquid, he said, can damage the lining of the esophagus although only a few patients show visible signs of inflammation. Marks (2009) said that this secreted liquid usually contains acid and pepsin (an enzyme that generates the digestion of proteins in the stomach) – which in turn are produced by the stomach. The discharged liquid may also reportedly contain bile (a bitter yellow or green fluid generated by the liver) that has been transferred into the stomach from the duodenum – the first part of the small intestine that attaches to the stomach.However, although pepsin and bile also may injure the esophagus, acid is still believed to be the most harmful component of the produced liquid.
GERD: The Chronic Condition Marks (2009) said GERD is a chronic condition. Likewise, he said that if there is injury to the lining of the esophagus, the damage is most probably permanent. Furthermore, even if this damage undergoes treatment and is healed, it will most likely return in just after a few months.Once treatment for GERD is begun, therefore, it usually will need to be continued indefinitely although it is argued that in some patients with sporadic symptoms and no esophagus, treatment can be still irregular and done only during periods when symptoms are taking effect. He did say, however, that the matter of the fact is that the reflux of the stomach’s liquid contents usually occurs in most individuals. One study even reportedly found that reflux occurs as frequently in normal people as in patients with GERD, it’s just that the refluxed liquid in those with GERD are more and remains in the esophagus longer.In addition, their liquid refluxes fluctuate to a higher level.
The Body’s Natural Defenses But according to Marks (2009), the body does have ways by which it protects itself from the negative effects of reflux and acid. He said that since most refluxes occur during the day when humans are either standing or sitting upright, the refluxed liquid is more likely to come back down to the stomach because of the force of gravity – which of course is pulling it downwards.In addition, when our glands in the mouth produce saliva, the effect of the reflux is lessened. This is because saliva contains bicarbonate which neutralizes the small amount of acid remaining in the esophagus after a person swallows.
The only downside of this natural defense is that it is also only effective when a person is upright during in the day since swallowing and the secretion of saliva is reduced at night.