What are the natural defense mechanisms against gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

Updated: May 23, 2019
  • Author: Marco G Patti, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

In most persons with GERD, endogenous defense mechanisms either limit the amount of noxious material that is introduced into the esophagus or rapidly clear the material from the esophagus so that symptoms and esophageal mucosal irritation are minimized. Examples of the defense mechanisms include actions of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and normal esophageal motility. When the defense mechanisms are defective or become overwhelmed so that the esophagus is bathed in acid or bile and acid-containing fluid for prolonged periods, GERD can be said to exist. (See Pathophysiology.)


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