Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic medical condition caused by the repeated backup or regurgitation of food and digestive acid from the stomach into the oesophagus from the mouth to the stomach. It can result from a defective sphincter between the oesophagus and the stomach. The most common symptoms suggestive of GERD are heartburn or acid indigestion. In addition to increasing the risk of oesophageal cancer, GERD causes significant impairments to health-related quality of life.
Almost 38 million Americans experience the discomforts of gastroesophageal reflux disease at least once a week, comprising 15% of women and 13% of men. More than 27 million of these have symptoms at night, resulting in impairments of pain, mental health, social functioning and vitality similar to those reported by patients with more serious chronic conditions such as angina or congestive heart disease.