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Persistent acid reflux that happens more than twice a week is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is felt when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, the pipe that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Heartburn is a symptom of GERD. According to estimates from the American College of Gastroenterology, at least 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day. Learn more about stomach fluid, the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach, and how reflux can be harmful.