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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Glossary of Heartburn Terms

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Diaphragm: The muscle below the lungs and heart separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity and serves as the main muscle in breathing.

Digestive tract: The system that turns the food you eat into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth and cell repair. 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 or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)(for the esophagus, stomach, first part of the small intestine), sigmoidoscopy (lower part of the large intestine), and lower endoscopy or colonoscopy (entire large intestine).

Enzyme: A protein that speeds up a chemical reaction. See gastric enzymes.

24-hour Esophageal pH test: A test used to measure the pH or amount of acid that flows into the esophagus from the stomach during a 24-hour period. It is also used to determine the effectiveness of medications that are given to patients to prevent acid reflux.

Esophageal manometry test: A test used to measure the strength and muscle coordination of the esophagus.

Esophageal ulcer: A sore or erosion of the lining of the esophagus generally caused by excessive exposure to acid.

Esophagitis: An inflammation, irritation, or ulceration of the lining of the esophagus. This injury is often caused by the excessive exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid. Other causes of esophagitis include fungal and bacterial infections.

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