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Difference Between Heartburn And Gerd

Whats The Difference Between Gerd And Heartburn

Heartburn, Acid Reflux and GERD The Differences Decoded

Dr. Gurtej Malhi, a gastroenterologist with Dignity Health Medical Group, explains that, GERD is reflux of the stomach contents into the esophagus. Heartburn, or a burning sensation in the chest, can be one of the symptoms of GERD.

Frequent and persistent heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, but GERD is also associated with other symptoms, such as:

  • regurgitation
  • chest pain, especially while lying down

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Its important to understand the difference between heartburn and GERD.

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Summary Gerd Vs Acid Reflux

Acid reflux has become an extremely common condition nowadays. Not adhering to a daily exercise plan, sedentary and busy lifestyle along with the fast food that people are vastly consuming have contributed to the increased incidence of this condition. When this condition progresses into a more advanced stage where there is a significant level of gastric acid reflux into the esophagus that condition is identified as GERD. This is the difference between GERD and acid reflux.

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What Is Acid Reflux

A circular muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter joins your esophagus and stomach. This muscle is in charge of tightening your esophagus after food passes to the stomach. If this muscle is weak or doesnt tighten properly, the acid from your stomach can move backward into your esophagus. This is known as acid reflux.

Acid reflux can cause heartburn and other symptoms that include:

  • cough

Most people can experience heartburn and acid reflux intermittently related to something they ate or habits like lying down immediately after eating. However, GERD is a chronic condition where doctors start to examine long-lasting habits and parts of a persons anatomy that could cause GERD. Examples of the causes of GERD include:

  • being overweight or obese, which puts extra pressure on the stomach
  • hiatal hernia, which reduces pressure in the LES
  • smoking
  • consuming alcohol
  • pregnancy
  • taking medicines known to weaken the LES, such as antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, pain-relieving medicines, sedatives, and antidepressants

Symptoms of GERD may disrupt your daily life. Fortunately, they can usually be controlled with treatment. Options include:

  • diet modification
  • smoking cessation
  • alcohol cessation

Medications for GERD work to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. They may not be effective for everyone. Some people need surgery to help reinforce the LES.

Give Yourself A Buffer Before Bedtime

What is the difference between Indigestion and Heart burn ...

If you lay down immediately after eating, its going to be easier for acid to flow back up. Thats why we recommend eating your last meal of the day two to three hours before bedtime. You can even develop a bedtime routine with activities like meditation thatll make your mind and body even more relaxed.

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Differences Between Acid Reflux Heartburn & Gerd

Knowing whether you have acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD is understandably confusingthe symptoms are often similar. The three conditions are actually all progressions of the same issue. Heres whats happening in your body to jump-start the process.

First, you eat something. It doesnt have to be something particularly fatty, spicy, or decadent. The most common culprits, though, are acidic and fatty foods. Think citrus, chocolate, fried foods, tomatoes, and other things like that.

After chowing down, that food heads from your esophagus to your stomach, a space guarded by the lower esophageal sphincter. Its a ring of muscle that closes up to keep everything in when food hits your belly. The problem comes in when that muscle doesnt tighten or close up properly. Stomach acid can then leak back into your esophagus, causing acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD.

All three conditions are more common with people who eat too quickly, drink or smoke, are obese, have a lot of stress, slouch a lot, have Diabetes, or are pregnant. So how do you know which one you have? Lets take a closer look.

Key Difference Gerd Vs Acid Reflux

Acid reflux and GERD are two related conditions. Acid reflux is the backflow of the gastric acids into the esophagus. When this condition progresses into a more advanced stage where there is a significant level of gastric acid reflux into the esophagus that condition is identified as GERD. The key difference between GERD and acid reflux is that GERD is considered as a pathological condition whereas acid reflux is not.

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How To Treat Gerd And Heartburn

Fortunately, simple diet and lifestyle modifications can help in getting relief from the symptoms of reflux and heartburn. Some of them are discussed below-

  • Generally, acid refluxes occur after eating large meals. The larger the meal, the higher the risk. Hence, avoid overeating.
  • As discussed above, excessive pressure due to obesity is another reason for acid reflux. Therefore, losing weight is another vital option.
  • Now you know that excessive alcohol can affect the band of muscles that control the movement of food going down the food pipe. Limit your alcohol consumption to prevent as well as get relief from symptoms.
  • Caffeinated products make symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn worse. Control the consumption of coffee regularly.
  • Dont lie down immediately after eating.

In some cases, acid reflux can only be cured with surgery. The surgery for treating acid reflux is known as fundoplication. In the acid reflux surgery, a gastroenterologist takes a little muscle from the upper part of the stomach and wraps it around the end of the esophagus. This helps to increase the pressure at the end of the esophagus and thereby cures acid reflux. The most effective treatment option is the laparoscopic procedure as it ensures faster recovery and decreased post-operative pain.

Options To Tame The Flames

Differences between acid reflux and heartburn

Thankfully, there are a number of effective treatments for heartburn, acid reflux disease and GERD. Lifestyle changes, such as managing weight, eating smaller portions, and avoiding triggers can help prevent heartburn symptoms. Over-the-counter antacid medications also provide relief for occasional heartburn.

If you have heartburn more than twice a week, or over-the-counter heartburn remedies no longer provide relief, it may be time to see a doctor. Prescription medications can help block the production of stomach acid and strengthen a weakened esophageal sphincter muscle, giving the esophagus a chance to heal. In the most severe cases, gastrointestinal surgery may be needed.

Find a gastroenterologist who can help you decode stomach pain or ask your primary care provider for a referral.

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Not Sure If What Youre Feeling Is A Heart Attack Or Heartburn

I tell my patients that if you belch and the symptoms go away, it probably isnt related to your heart but to your esophagus, Bauman said. But if you have shortness of breath or sweating, then its likely a heart-related issue.

However, everyone is different, and not all symptoms are caused by one or the other, so:

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Treatment Of Acid Reflux And Heartburn

If youve ever experienced heartburn, you know how uncomfortable it can feel.

Luckily, its often relatively easy to treat with over-the-counter medications or, if needed, prescription drugs. Common medicines used to treat heartburn include:

  • Antacids, such as Tums and Rolaids, help relieve heartburn by neutralizing your stomach acid and.
  • H-2 receptor antagonists , such as famotidine , can help to reduce the amount of stomach acid your body produces.
  • Proton pump inhibitors, including lansoprazole and omeprazole can also reduce stomach acid in your body and in turn help prevent heartburn symptoms.

Your health care provider may recommend a prescription-strength acid blocker if OTC medications dont fully relieve your heartburn symptoms.

You can also get a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor.

Its important to treat acid reflux and heartburn because its uncomfortable and can interfere with your ability to eat food and function in your everyday life, but also because of serious complications that can occur.

Over time, untreated, frequent acid reflux can damage your esophagus, and potentially a precancerous change in your esophagus called Barretts esophagus.

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Tests And Surgery For Heartburn And Acid Reflux

If medicines do not help or your symptoms are severe, a GP may refer you to a specialist for:

  • tests to find out what’s causing your symptoms, such as a gastroscopy
  • an operation on your stomach to stop acid reflux called a laparoscopic fundoplication

Page last reviewed: 09 September 2020 Next review due: 09 September 2023

Lifestyle Changes Help Treat Acid Reflux/gerd

What is the difference between Indigestion and Heart burn ...
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes
  • Avoid food and drinks that trigger heartburn
  • Watch portion sizes larger and higher-fat meals tend to stay in the stomach longer before moving to the small intestine, so the LES and esophagus are potentially exposed to stomach contents and acid for a longer period
  • Keep a heartburn record your symptoms, the time they occurred, what you ate and activities you engaged in before you experienced the discomfort
  • Dont lie down after a meal
  • Elevate your head when lying down
  • Dont smoke

While some people experience acid reflux/GERD and heartburn relief by making changes to their lifestyle or by taking over-the-counter medications such as antacids, H2 blockers and PPIs, others may continue to experience symptoms. If four to eight weeks of twice-daily PPI therapy is unsuccessful, further investigation with endoscopy is recommended. There are some procedures that can be done to treat GERD.

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The Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux

Oct 8, 2020 | Blog, Acid Reflux, Chiropractic, Digestion, Digestive Issues, Digestive System, Nutrition

You know youre getting older, when the fire in your belly is actually acid reflux.

Almost everyone has experienced heartburn at some point in their life. In fact, its reported that nearly 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Do you suffer from frequent heartburn? If yes, keep reading.

Heartburn And Gerd In Pregnant Women

Heartburn and GERD are commonly associated with pregnancy and can occur in women who may never have had GERD symptoms before. Pregnant women usually experience GERD symptoms around the first trimester. It then worsens in the last trimester. The good news is that when your baby is born, your symptoms usually go away.

Pregnancy can increase levels of the hormone progesterone, which can cause the muscles of the lower esophagus to relax. This makes it more likely that acid will reflux. Increased pressure on the stomach from a growing uterus can also increase a womans likelihood for having GERD.

Symptoms include pain that gets worse after a meal and acid regurgitation. Because the symptoms tend to be temporary, a woman usually doesnt experience the long-term complications associated with GERD, like ongoing inflammation.

Doctors usually avoid prescribing too many medications while a woman is pregnant because the medicine can be passed along to the fetus. Instead, doctors usually recommend making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods known to cause acid reflux and sleeping with the head slightly elevated. Taking antacids that contain magnesium, aluminum, and calcium may be permitted. However, antacids with sodium bicarbonate should be avoided in pregnant women because they can affect a womans fluid volumes.

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What Is The Difference Between Heartburn Acid Reflux And Gerd

The terms heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are frequently utilized interchangeably. They really have very different meanings.

Understanding the differences in between heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease involves understanding the links between them.

Acid reflux is a common medical condition that can range in intensity from mild to major. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is the chronic, more serious form of acid reflux. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.

Whats The Difference Between Acid Reflux Heartburn And Gerd

What is the difference between acid reflux, GERD and heartburn?

Many of us will experience some digestive discomfort in our lifetime. A common complaint people have is heartburn or acid reflux. People use the terms heartburn and acid reflux almost interchangeably. You may also hear cases of acid reflux referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease .

So if youre dealing with any of these issues, you might want to know: whats the difference between acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD? All three are closely related, but they differ in important ways. In the most basic terms: heartburn is a symptom, acid reflux is a process, and GERD is a chronic condition.


Most people have experienced what is referred to as heartburn. Many people get heartburn after eating certain foods. Heartburn is a feeling of burning in the chest. The burning pain may be mild or severe. It often begins as discomfort behind the breastbone but can move up to the neck and throat. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a process in which stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the stomach to the throat. Acid reflux is sometimes called gastroesophageal reflux, or GER and is the cause of heartburn.

Common symptoms of acid reflux include burning pain and pressure starting behind the breastbone that may extend up the neck and throat, sore throat, cough, bitter taste in the throat, and a sour taste in the mouth.


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Whats The Difference Between Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux

Heartburn is just what that term implies: You feel a burning pain in your chest just behind the breastbone. Asking whether you have heartburn or acid reflux is actually a trick question because heartburn is simply considered a symptom of acid reflux, per the NIDDK. If you have heartburn, youre experiencing some form of reflux. Its similar to asking whether you have swollen gums or gingivitisthe former is a symptom of the latter.

However, not everyone who has acid reflux experiences heartburn, just as you may not have swollen gums even though you struggle with gingivitis. But its more likely that you will deal with heartburn since its the most common symptom of acid reflux, says Dr. Balasubramanian. Heartburn implies that your acid reflux has come up to the level of your heart, and its usually worse after eating common trigger foods like chocolate or tomatoes or when lying down after eating or drinking. You may also have a bitter or acidic taste in the mouth, which Dr. Balasubramanian says is an effect of the acid traveling higher up your throat.

Delaying Treatment For Gerd May Lead To Complications

If GERD goes untreated, it can lead to more serious complications. One such issue is esophagitis, which is inflammation in the esophagus. Hagan says that if esophagitis is not treated, you may develop a stricture, which is a narrowing of the esophagus that can lead to esophageal pain and affect proper swallowing.

Another complication of GERD is a condition called Barretts esophagus . Over time, the stomach acid causes cells in the lining of the esophagus to look more like the stomach lining, says Hagan. These changes, which happen on a cellular level, may in rare cases lead to a form of esophageal cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, BE is more common in:

  • White males
  • People older than age 50
  • Smokers
  • People who are overweight

Esophageal cancer is relatively rare, making up just 1 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. However, over the past few decades, the incidence rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma has been on the rise in North America and Western Europe, according to a report published in 2019 in the Journal of Gastroenterology.

Furthermore, a study published in January 2021 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, found that this form of cancer is on the rise in younger adults: Between 1975 and 2015, the incidence rate of esophageal adenocarcinoma increased by an average of 2.9 percent per year.

Additional reporting by Ashley Welch.

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Whats The Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux

Many people use the terms acid reflux, heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease interchangeably, despite them being different things.

To clear things up:

Heartburn is a sensation of tightness, pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest that can but doesnt always follow an occurrence of acid reflux. It has nothing to do with the heart, and everything to do with the digestion system.

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates up into the esophagus. This happens due to an issue with the Lower Esophageal Sphincter . The LES is the of muscle at the entrance of the stomach valve. Its job is to open and close as food passes through it. If it doesnt close all the way, or if it opens too often stomach acid can make its way into the esophagus which is what we call acid reflux. A symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, but one can have reflux without heartburn occurring. Another common symptom is a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into the throat or mouth.

GERD is a chronic health issue resulting from a more severe form of reflux. Those with GERD will experience heartburn often . They may also experience other signs and symptoms like regurgitation of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain especially while lying down at night.

Oftentimes Acid Reflux is triggered by:


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