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.
How Can My Doctor Tell If I Have Heartburn Or Acid Reflux
A medical doctor can often diagnose GERD and heartburn by your description of the symptoms your experience.
You may see a gastroenterologist, a medical specialist in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, who may order an upper GI series. This is a series of X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the intestine often used to rule out other health conditions. An upper GI endoscopy, where a flexible probe with a tiny camera at the end is passed down your throat to see the esophagus. This helps diagnose how severe your acid reflux is, and can also rule out other health complications.
If your symptoms are not clearly from acid reflux, your doctor may perform other tests to rule out important conditions like heart attack, ulcers, lung problems, esophagus problems, and gastritis.
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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Symptoms Improve Permanently On A Gluten
The results were as follows:
At the end of the 8-week mark, GERD symptoms were resolved in 86% of the celiac patients and 67% of the control group.
At the 6 month mark, recurrence of symptoms occurred in 20% of the celiac patients , but in the longer follow-up interval of 12, 18, and 24 months, there was no recurrence of symptoms found in any of the celiac patients. The control group, however, revealed a 30% recurrence at the 6-month mark, escalating to 60% at the 12-month mark, showing a further increase to 75% at 18 months and ending with a total of 85% at the 24-month mark.
Fascinating 80% of the celiac group who maintained a gluten-free diet remained symptom-free after 2 years, while the non-celiac group who did not follow a gluten-free diet continued to worsen the longer they were off the drug with only 15% being symptom-free. What did the researchers think about this?
Their conclusion was:
a gluten-free diet could be helpful in reducing the symptoms of GERD,
the elimination of gluten from the diet could act as a protection against GERD since gluten seems to precipitate symptoms in some people.
Based on the small rate of relapse 20% vs 75% of the celiac patients vs the control group, it makes good sense to conclude that following a gluten-free diet can help protect against GERD.
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Heartburn And Acid Reflux: Like Fire And Smoke
Some LESs don’t form a tight seal when closed, and others will relax randomly when there is still work to be done. When the LES relaxes with food still in the stomach, pressure from the fullness of the stomach, physical movement or even tight-fitting clothes can force the contents back up through the relaxed valve into your esophagus.
Although used interchangeably, there is a difference between heartburn and acid reflux. So let’s clear this up:
- Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid regurgitates up into the esophagus. Reflux is the cause of heartburn. However, you may feel no pain at all when reflux occurs.
- Heartburn is a sensation of tightness, pain or discomfort in the middle of the chest that can — but doesn’t always — follow an occurrence of acid reflux. Heartburn is exactly what it would feel like if acid ate away at the lining of your esophagus, because that’s what’s happening.
While you can and do likely have occasional bouts of acid reflux without heartburn, you can’t have heartburn without acid reflux. Acid reflux is the cause, and heartburn is a potential sensation. Reflux: the fire heartburn: the smoke. The pain of heartburn is the irritation or damage taking place to your esophagus by the refluxed stomach acid.
Have more questions about heartburn, GERD and the digestive system? See the next page for answers.
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Q: Are Heartburn And Acid Reflux The Same Thing What About Gerd
A: They are different but related. It starts with the esophagus. The esophagus is made up of predominantly smooth muscle. It extends from the throat down through the chest cavity and, when it gets past the abdomen, joins up with the stomach. When you swallow, the esophagus opens and then squeezes food down.
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At the very bottom of theesophagus, there is a valve that separates it from the stomach. That valve shouldnormally be closed. When you swallow, it opens so that food can pass through,and then it closes again. Acid reflux is a disorder that occurs when that valveopens when its not supposed to, so stomach contents can flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus and causesymptoms.
Now, normal individuals can have up to an hour of reflux per day and not feel it. But if people have problematic reflux, it can cause heartburn, which is a burning thats felt mid-chest, below the sternum, especially after meals or at night when you lie down. So heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. Acid reflux can also cause regurgitation.
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Its a more severe form of acid reflux where the stomach contents flowing back up into the esophagus becomes problematic. It can also cause a cough or the feeling that theres a lump in the back of your throat.
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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When Do Acid Reflux Symptoms Occur
Acid reflux symptoms most often occur:
- After eating a heavy meal
- When bending over or lifting an object
- When lying down, especially on your back
People who have frequent acid reflux symptoms most often experience them at night. Nighttime GERD also produces the most pain. However, the level of pain does not always indicate the degree of damage to your esophagus.
More than half of all pregnant women experience heartburn during pregnancy. Increased hormones and pressure from a growing fetus can combine to produce this acid reflux symptom. In most cases, heartburn improves or completely goes away after delivery.
When Acid Reflux Is Chronic: What Is Gerd
According to the ACG, GERD is acid reflux that occurs more than a couple of times per week. That said, its not the case that a person who has occasional heartburn will necessarily progress toward having GERD, says Louis Cohen, MD, gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. But the symptoms are the same as those of acid reflux, such as the burning feeling in your chest and the sensation that your stomach contents are in your throat. You may also have a dry cough or trouble swallowing.
Diagnosing the condition can usually be done by a primary care doctor by simply evaluating symptom frequency and severity.
We may also put a probe into a patients esophagus for a day to measure how frequently reflux happens, says Dr. Cohen. Knowing how often reflux occurs is another way to confirm a diagnosis.
Treatment for GERD starts with lifestyle modifications, adds Hagan, well ask patients to try these steps before we offer medication, although we understand that it can be hard to do some things, such as quitting smoking.
The medication most often prescribed for GERD is a proton pump inhibitor , such as:
If we determine that GERD symptoms are caused by hypersensitivity in the esophagus or excessive relaxation of the lower esophagus, we might prescribe tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, adds Cohen.
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Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux
We are all familiar with the burning sensation that we often feel after a large meal. While this feeling is certainly uncomfortable and is often compared to someone squeezing the heart in the palm of their hand, the pain you feel from heartburn and acid reflux is the result of bile and acid making its way up your esophagus.
When digestion occurs, we expect that the process will be painless, but this is not always the case. Many people believe that acid reflux and heartburn are two interchangeable ailments, but in reality, they are both much different. Lets take a moment to clear up the dissimilarities between the two common stomach pains.
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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Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux: Whats The Difference
Weve all felt the pain of heartburn after eating a delicious burger. On the quest for relief, youve probably found yourself asking: Whats the difference between heartburn and acid reflux, anyway? And what the heck does GERD mean?
In the moment, those buzzwords and questions may not seem to matter as much as finding something that will make the awful sensation stop, but understanding whats going on in your digestive tractespecially if this is a frequent problem for youcan be the key to preventing future episodes. Heres a simple breakdown of what causes acid reflux, how heartburn plays a role in the condition, and what you should know to keep both out of your future and finally enjoy your meals in peace.
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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Treating Heartburn Vs Indigestion
Both heartburn and indigestion may be treated with over-the-counter products, such as:
- Antacids for mild, occasional heartburn symptoms. Antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid. They may be taken as soon as you experience symptoms, or before eating trigger foods to prevent them. Antacids arent meant to be taken every day, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Daily use can cause GI upset.
- Proton pump inhibitors for long-term treatment. PPIs work by decreasing the amount of acid in your stomach, allowing your esophagus to heal.
- Histamine-H2-receptor antagonists . These are also designed to decrease stomach acid, but they arent as strong as PPIs.
Ask your doctor before taking any herbal remedies for GI issues, as you may unintentionally make your heartburn or indigestion worse.
Occasional heartburn or indigestion is largely preventable. Prevention methods are the same for both conditions.
Here are some of the ways you can help decrease a flare-up of heartburn and indigestion symptoms:
These preventive measures may also help alleviate symptoms of chronic heartburn or indigestion, but youll need to see your doctor to help treat the underlying causes to help prevent further complications.
What Causes Heartburn
When you eat, food passes from your mouth down a tube called the esophagus. The esophagus is about 10 inches long in most people. To enter the stomach, the food must pass through an opening between the esophagus and stomach. This opening acts like a gate to allow food to pass into the stomach. Usually, this opening closes as soon as food passes through. But if it doesnt close all the way, acid from your stomach can get through the opening and into your esophagus. This is called reflux. Stomach acid can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Hiatal hernia also can cause heartburn. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm and into the chest. Sometimes this causes heartburn.
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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:
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
- consuming alcohol
- 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.
Differences In Between Symptoms Of Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux
Heartburn, a symptom of acid reflux, and feels like a burning pain or discomfort in the chest, around the area of the heart.
Acid reflux might include heartburn symptoms. Other typical symptoms of acid reflux include:
- A warm or acidic taste at the back of the throat
- Sore throat
- Nausea, a sensation of fullness.
- Feeling tightness in the throat.
- It might feel challenging to swallow, or you may seem like you have food stuck in your throat.
Acid reflux and heartburn might trigger chest pain, when after consuming or when resting. See your medical professional if you have any chest pain that is not identified because chest pain may signify a cardiovascular disease or another major heart condition.
If you have been diagnosed as having acid reflux by your physician or other healthcare professional, and your symptoms change all of a sudden or worsen acutely, seek healthcare right now to make certain this chest pain is not related to a cardiac arrest or other serious medical conditions.
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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
What Are The Common Acid Reflux Symptoms
Heartburn, regurgitation, and dyspepsia are a few of the most common acid reflux symptoms.
Heartburn. Also called acid indigestion, heartburn is a burning pain or discomfort that can move up from your stomach to the middle of your abdomen and chest. The pain can also move into your throat. Despite its name, heartburn doesn’t affect your heart.
Regurgitation. Another common symptom of acid reflux is regurgitation — or the sensation of acid backing up into your throat or mouth. Regurgitation can produce a sour or bitter taste, and you may experience “wet burps.”
Dyspepsia. Many people with acid reflux disease also have a syndrome called dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is a general term for stomach discomfort. Symptoms of dyspepsia include:
- Upper abdominal pain and discomfort
Symptoms of acid reflux may be a sign that stomach acid has inflamed your esophagus. When that happens, stomach acid can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause bleeding. Over time, it can also change the cells of esphagus and cause cancer .
Although acid reflux is extremely common and rarely serious, don’t ignore your acid reflux symptoms. Making a few lifestyle changes and using over-the-counter antacids are often all you need to control acid reflux symptoms.
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