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What role does the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) play in GERD?

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscular valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. In GERD, the LES plays a crucial role as its dysfunction contributes to the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus. Normally, the LES tightens to prevent stomach contents from regurgitating into the esophagus. However, in GERD, the LES may relax inappropriately, allowing acid to flow back, causing symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation. Additionally, a weakened or impaired LES fails to adequately close, facilitating persistent acid reflux. Understanding and addressing LES function is central to managing GERD symptoms effectively.


1. Kahrilas, P. J., Shaheen, N. J., & Vaezi, M. F. (2008). American Gastroenterological Association Institute technical review on the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterology, 135(4), 1392–1413. [](

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