You are a nurse screening a patient who has been complaining of heartburn. Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest, caused by back flow from the stomach. List two possible organs (other than the stomach) that could be affected by this condition and why they are affected?
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First, although the patient reports "heartburn", this is a symptom rather than a cause. Thus the first thing you need to do is a complete examination to make sure that the cause of the patient's symptoms is indeed gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or what is popularly termed heartburn, rather than an ulcer or a heart attack, which can present some similar symptoms.
The main organ affected by GERD is the esophagus, which can become damaged by the acid reflux, leading to inflammation, bleeding, and even some precancerous conditions, due to erosion of the esophageal wall.
A second organ other than the stomach affected by GERD can be the throat, in a condition named laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), occurring when the acid reflux continues up into the throat or nasal cavity. This can cause sleep apnea and other airway problems.
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