Glossary of Terms
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
The esophagus is the tube that carries the food from the mouth to the stomach. It is separated from the stomach by a muscular sphincter that keeps the acidic contents of the stomach from coming in contact with the lining of the esophagus. "Gastro" refers to the stomach. Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease is a condition in which normal mechanisms for keeping the acidic contents of the stomach from coming into contact with the esophageal lining fail, thereby allowing the stomach contents to backwash or "reflux" into the esophagus. The symptoms are those of "heartburn" and can lead to scarring of the lining of the esophagus that can, over time, block the transit of food into the stomach. The scarring can also, in some cases, eventually become cancerous.