oa SA Pharmacist's Assistant - Distinguishing between heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease : gastrointestinal tract
With gravity's help, a muscular valve called the lower oesophageal sphincter helps to keep stomach acid in the stomach. Normally, it opens to allow food to pass into the stomach, then closes again. If the lower oesophageal sphincter opens too often or does not close tightly enough, stomach acid can reflux or seep into the oesophagus and cause a burning sensation. The passage of stomach contents into the oesophagus (gastro-oesophageal reflux) is a normal process. Most episodes are brief and do not cause symptoms, injury or other complications. However, reflux becomes a disease when it either causes damage to the oesophagus or results in symptoms that reduce the patient's quality of life.
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