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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

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Glossary of Heartburn Terms

Acid reflux: The backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus. Acid reflux generally occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes and allows harsh stomach juices to flow back up into the esophagus.

Acid blockers: Medicines that reduce the production of acid in the stomach to treat heartburn and acid indigestion. Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers are the two main types of acid blockers.

Recommended Related to Heartburn/GERD

Heartburn Symptoms: A Pharmacist's Guide to Treating Heartburn

If you're one of the 40 million Americans who have heartburn symptoms at least once a week -- or even among the 60 million more who have heartburn symptoms at least once a month -- you're probably always looking for new ways to relieve that acid reflux. Even if your heartburn symptoms aren't severe and frequent enough to require prescription medication, you can still get a lot of help in managing your acid reflux from your local pharmacist. Pharmacists are savvy about not only prescription...

Read the Heartburn Symptoms: A Pharmacist's Guide to Treating Heartburn article > >

Angina: Also called angina pectoris, a discomfort or pressure, usually in the chest, caused by an inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. Discomfort may also be felt in the neck, jaw, or arms.

Antacids: medications commonly used for the treatment of heartburn. Antacids treat heartburn symptoms as they occur and work by neutralizing acid in the stomach for a short period of time.

Appendix: A small, finger-like tube located where the large and small intestine join. It has no known function.

Barium swallow: A test that uses a special substance called barium to coat the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine so that they can be seen on a X-ray.

Barrett's esophagus: A condition marked by abnormal cells lining the lower part of the esophagus that develops in response to acid injury. This condition increases the risk of developing cancer of the esophagus.

Bile: A substance that aids in the digestion of fat and eliminates waste products from the blood.

Biliary system: The gallbladder and bile ducts.

Biopsy: Removal of a sample of tissue for study, usually under a microscope.

Cannulas: A hollow tube with a sharp, retractable inner core that can be inserted into a vein, an artery, or another body cavity.

Carcinoma: Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

Clinical trial: A type of research study that tests how well new medical approaches work in people. These studies test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. Also called a clinical study.

Colon: see large intestine

Diaphragm: The muscle below the lungs and heart separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.

Digestive tract: The system that turns the food you eat into the energy your body needs to survive. The digestive system extends from the mouth to the throat, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The pancreas, salivary glands, liver, and gallbladder all connect to the digestive tract, producing essential substances for healthy digestion.

Duodenum: First part of the small intestine that connects to the lower part of the stomach.

Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.

Endoscope: A thin, lighted tube used to look at tissues inside the body.

Endoscopy: A procedure that uses a lighted flexible instrument that allows the doctor to see the inside of the digestive tract. The device, called an endoscope, can be passed through the mouth or through the anus, depending on which part of the digestive tract is being examined. This method is referred to by different names depending on the area being examined, such as: esophagoscopy (esophagus), gastroscopy (stomach), upper endoscopy (esophagus, stomach, first part of the small intestine), sigmoidoscopy (lower part of the large intestine), and colonoscopy (entire large intestine).

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