Difference Between Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

The terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. The top gastroenterologists at SMILES help you understand the differences between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD, & how you can manage if you have any of these conditions.

Acid reflux is a digestive disorder that can range from mild to severe. Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a constantly recurring form of acid reflux. Heartburn is the most symptom of both acid reflux and GERD.

1. What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a painful burning sensation in your chest or throat. It happens in the digestive system when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, a tube that carries food from your mouth to stomach.

Heartburn usually occurs after eating that may even worsen when bending or lying down. Heartburn can be triggered by eating certain foods especially spicy or fatty foods. Other symptoms include being overweight, smoking, pregnancy, stress, and anxiety.

However, prolonged heartburn can be managed by:

  • ● Losing weight
  • ● Eating fewer fatty foods
  • ● Avoiding spicy foods
  • ● Wearing looser clothing
  • ● Stopping smoking

2. What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition that features a burning pain or tightening sensation (known as heartburn) in the lower chest area. It occurs when your stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe.

Acid reflux is also defined as a digestive disease in which stomach acid irritates the food pipelining.

Acid reflux may develop in the stomach for a variety of reasons. Some of them include stomach abnormalities such as stomach abnormalities, eating spicy foods, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, and being overweight

In many cases, acid reflux can be treated by following the ways that include:

  • ● Take antacids and other medications that reduce acid production
  • ● Maintain a healthy weight
  • ● Don’t overeat, and eat slowly
  • ● Avoid alcohol
  • ● Avoid eating close to bedtime
  • ● Remain upright for at least two hours after eating

3. What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is a digestive disease that affects your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle between your esophagus and stomach. Symptoms of GERD include a burning sensation under the chest and regurgitation of stomach fluid.

Gastroenterologists explain that GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux. If left uncontrolled, long-term GERD can result in serious problems including esophagitis, strictures, and esophageal cancer. Pain from GERD may not be relieved with antacids or other over the counter medications.

Fortunately, GERD can usually be controlled with treatment options include:

  • ● Follow a low-carb diet
  • ● Lose weight
  • ● Limit alcohol intake
  • ● Avoid drinking too much coffee
  • ● Limit other carbonated beverages
  • ● Avoid lying down immediately after meals
  • ● Avoid tight-fitting clothing

There are certain medications that include antacids and H2 blockers to treat a chronic form of acid reflux or GERD. If these medications don’t reduce the Symptoms of GERD, a surgery known as Nissen fundoplication is recommended to avoid further damage to the esophagus and stomach.

4. When to see a doctor?

Sometimes GERD symptoms indicate the need for emergency medical treatment. These include:

  • ● Experiencing regular & forceful vomiting
  • ● Having difficulty breathing
  • ● Having difficulty swallowing
  • ● The feeling of frequent sweating and dizziness
  • ● Vomiting with bright red blood or coffee-ground like contents

Top gastroenterologists in Bangalore suggests immediate treatment that helps diagnose how severe your acid reflux is, & also checks for other complications.

Experiencing heartburn or acid reflux at an increased frequency? Talk to Dr Parameshwara C M, one of the best gastroenterologists in Bangalore.