Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly, and stomach contents splashback, or reflux, into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a camera shutter between the esophagus and stomach.
Doctors usually recommend lifestyle and dietary changes to relieve heartburn. Many people with GERD also need medication or surgery.
The role of hiatal hernia in GERD continues to be debated and explored. It is a complex topic because some people have a hiatal hernia without having reflux, while others have reflux without having a hernia.