Acid reflux disease--known medically as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)--is the more technical term for heartburn. Many people suffer from this condition, which is characterized by a burning-type sensation in the middle of the chest--often after eating foods with a high acid content--regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. In some extreme cases, acid reflux disease can cause a sore throat (when the acid reaches the back of the mouth), erosion of the esophagus and even esophageal cancer in extreme cases.

Acid reflux disease happens when stomach acid, for whatever reason, enters the esophagus and causes a painful burning sensation in the patient. The most typical cause of acid reflux disease is a failure of the sphincter muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus. This allows stomach acids to enter the esophagus. A few factors that can aggravate this condition include poor posture, obesity and eating too many acidic foods.

Doctors use a variety of tools to diagnose acid reflux. In a case where a doctor suspects acid reflux may have caused damage to a patient's esophagus, she may order an endoscopy ( a tube with a small camera at the end that is inserted into the patient's esophagus and stomach via the mouth).

There are a number of treatments for acid reflux disease including medications that reduce or stop altogether the production of stomach acid, surgery, sleep positioning (elevating the head slightly higher than the rest of the body) and the elimination of certain foods from the diet such as coffee, chocolate, and tomatoes, for example.