Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when acid that should remain in the stomach “leaks” into the esophagus—the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach.
The digestive juices created in the stomach and liver tend to be very caustic. Fortunately, the lining of the stomach is normally able to protect itself from these juices by secreting a protective mucus shield. But the esophagus doesn’t have these protective mechanisms. Therefore, any acid that refluxes into the esophagus causes pain, inflammation, and damage.
Signs and Symptoms of Acid Reflux
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn pain—a burning sensation often centered in the breastbone area that can travel upward through the chest and into the neck, throat, or face.
Of course, nearly all of us have had occasional heartburn after eating a meal that didn’t agree with us, or just eating too much of something we couldn’t resist. But persistent heartburn is a telltale sign that you have acid reflux. Other signs and symptoms of acid reflux include regurgitation and excessive salivation.