Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a form of acid reflux, in which digestive acids rise up in the esophagus with food. This occurs when the lower sphincter of the esophagus opens spontaneously or does not close properly. It can cause a taste of food or fluid in the back of the mouth, and if stomach acid rises with these contents, it can cause a painful, burning sensation often called heartburn.
While many people can experience these symptoms infrequently or from time to time, it can be more serious for those who have heartburn and reflux two or more times weekly. Some people can also have GERD without heartburn symptoms and instead experience coughing, swallowing problems or difficulty breathing.
It is not clear why people develop GERD, although pregnancy, obesity or smoking may contribute to the problem. Some foods can cause existing symptoms to feel more severe.
A gastroenterologist can help provide a treatment plan for GERD and help to ensure that there are no other serious underlying health conditions at hand.