Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD; or GORD when spelling oesophageal, the BE form) is defined as chronic symptoms or mucosal damage produced by the abnormal reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus.
This is commonly due to transient or permanent changes in the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach.
This can be due to incompetence of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), transient LES relaxation, impaired expulsion of gastric reflux from the esophagus, or association with a hiatal hernia.
Heartburn is the major symptom of acid in the esophagus, characterized by a burning discomfort behind the breastbone (sternum).
Findings in GERD include esophagitis (reflux esophagitis), inflammatory changes in the esophageal lining (mucosa), strictures, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and chronic chest pain.
Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD.