gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Disorder characterized by frequent passage of gastric contents from the stomach back into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD may include heartburn, coughing, frequent clearing of the throat, and difficulty in swallowing. It can be caused by relaxation of the muscle that connects the esophagus and the stomach, delayed emptying of the esophagus or stomach, hiatal hernia, obesity, or pregnancy. Treatment is with antacids or acid-inhibiting medications and lifestyle changes such as not eating before bedtime, avoiding acidic or fatty foods or beverages, cessation of smoking, and weight loss. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases.
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