GERD, Part 2

Anatomically, our mouth is connected to the pharynx which is in turn connected to the esophagus.  The esophagus is a muscular tube that has two muscular doors.  On the upper end of the esophagus is the Upper Esophageal sphincter (UES) that relaxes to allow the food to enter the esophagus.

Once the food has been transferred to the esophagus, the UES closes.  On the bottom part of the esophagus is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that allows the food to drop from the  esophagus to the stomach.  Once the food has entered the stomach, the LES is supposed to stay shut. The LES functions as a door that does not allow the food or the juices from the stomach to return to the esophagus.

Essentially, when our LES muscle is relaxed more than it is supposed to be, the juices from the stomach can rise back to the esophagus and create what we call, GERD.  There are various

Reasons for the weak LES, - alcohol and tobacco happen to be some of the bigger culprits.  Anatomic structural abnormalities that weaken LES could also contribute to GERD.

--Veronika Dubrovskaya, MD

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