Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease—Infant

(GERD—Infant; Chronic Heartburn—Infant; Reflux Esophagitis—Infant; Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease—Infant; GORD—Infant; Reflux—Infant)

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Definition

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a back up of acid or food from the stomach to the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. GER is common in babies. It causes them to spit up. Most babies outgrow GER within 12 months.After 18-24 months, esophageal injury and additional symptoms may point to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is the regular flow of acid to the esophagus. GERD requires treatment to avoid complications.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
EC00059 97870 1 gerd stomach
Food and acid back up into the esophagus from the stomach.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscular ring between the esophagus and the stomach. It relaxes to let food pass into the stomach, then closes shut to prevent it from backing up. With GERD, the ring doesn't close as tightly as it normally should. This causes acid reflux, a burning sensation that can be felt below the breastbone.The following factors contribute to GERD:
  • Increased relaxation of the LES
  • Problems with LES muscle tone
  • Problems with the nerves that control the LES
  • Delayed emptying of the stomach
  • Genetics and family history

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