DEAR DR. ROACH: Could you please tell me about GERD and how serious is it? Is an over-the-counter tablet OK instead of a pharmacy pill at flare up? -- E.M.
ANSWER: Gastroesophageal reflux means that the contents of the stomach ("gastrum") go backward ("reflux") into the esophagus. It is extremely common -- 22% of people in the U.S. reported having symptoms of heartburn or regurgitation in the previous month.