This is the Mayo Clinic's definition of GERD:
GERD, also known as acid reflux, is a condition in which stomach acids or bile salts back up into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach) producing a burning sensation behind the breastbone and esophageal irritation or inflammation. Normally, acid is trapped in the stomach by a circular band of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which remains closed except when swallowing. If the sphincter relaxes abnormally or becomes weakened, stomach acid tends to back up, causing symptoms of heartburn. This can also be exacerbated by the presence of a hiatal hernia (when part of the stomach is protruding through the diaphragm and into the chest).
Research and talking to your doctor will help you out a lot.
Last edited by JenniW77; 04-05-2009 at 10:01 AM.
Reason: found a mistake.
GERD is a misnomer. It should be called "sphincter disease" or some such. The Mayo reply is good. It's not an issue of "too much" or "too little" acid, period, at all; it's whether the sphincter (lower esophageal in this case; LES) works right or not.
In fact, everyone refluxes a bit. It's normal. What's abnormal is EXCESSIVE reflux. THAT is our problem, and it's ultimately caused (apparently) by a faulty sphincter letting too much upward.
GERD would be typically defined as too much acid. After all, the acronym is about Refluxing (acid) Disease. But, as far as the symptoms go, burning, inflamation, etc... both too much or too little acid can be the cause. Thus, when you read people state too little acid as the cause of GERD, they mean to say, too little acid could be the cause of your symptoms (which appear to be; and are similar to symptoms as defined by GERD).
What we are dealing with pertains to the PH balance in your stomach, either too high (acidic) or to low (alkaline). Both can cause similar symptoms. Just recognize some people will use the term GERD interchangeably because the symptoms are similar. If we can find the cause of these conditions we hope to cure the problem . Ex. Why is my stomach too acidic (or alkaline) and causing these symptoms? That is the tough question we all want answered with the hopes of then finding a cure.
One thought for too little acid is as you age, the acid production is suppose to decrease. Thus some peoples problems could be caused by to little acid and taking the acid suppressing medication is not helpful, or even harmful. Thus, you hear recommended suggestions like apple cider vinegar, and probiotics and digestive enzymes.
But some peoples problems are too much acid, and the various acid suppressing medications are helpful. Taking probiotics and digetive enymes can still be good for this too.
A PH probe study from your doctor is the best way to identify what side of the acid/alkaline balance you lie on.