The Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD

Acid reflux is a very common issue. Today we'll help you understand the difference between acid reflux and GERD – gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD

Last update: 13 January, 2020

Gastroesophageal reflux disease – or GERD – is a common issue where stomach acid filters towards the esophagus. It’s an illness that occurs when the upper part of the digestive tract doesn’t work properly, causing the content of the stomach to return to the esophagus. It’s not always easy to recognize the difference between mere acid reflux and GERD, an illness. However, by the time you finish today’s article, you’ll have a much better understanding.

The first thing you need to know is that stomach acid (heartburn) is the most evident manifestation or symptom of acid reflux. However, if heartburn occurs on a frequent basis, then it may be a sign of a more serious issue – an illness gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). And by frequent, we’re referring to at least two episodes per week.

In fact, GERD simply causes symptoms like stomach acid and unpleasant taste in the back of the mouth. Although it’s true that the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease are the same as those of acid reflux… Such as a burning sensation in the chest and the feeling that stomach contents are in the throat.

Furthermore, it can also produce a dry cough and difficulty with swallowing. This may be a simple occasional nuisance for some people, but for others, it can be a serious and lifelong problem. In most cases, changes in a person’s diet and lifestyle can help bring relief.

It’s important to implement changes in lifestyle

Individuals can often control the uncomfortable symptoms of GERD through self-help measures and medication. Together with changes in diet and lifestyledoctors may recommend over-the-counter treatments or prescription drugs.

Whatever the case, physicians almost always ask patients to follow certain steps before resorting to medication. However, some of these steps may be difficult for patients to take, such as quitting smoking.

The Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD

In this sense, people who suffer from GERD should avoid foods and drinks that irritate the damaged lining of the esophagus, such as citrus fruits and juices and products that contain tomatoes and pepper. In the same way, reducing portion sizes at mealtime can also help to keep symptoms under control.

Eating meals at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed can also help reduce the symptoms of GERD. This allows stomach acid to reduce and for the stomach to empty partially.

Excess weight can also be a factor that makes symptoms worse. In fact, many people who are overweight find relief once they shed a few pounds. Studies have shown that obesity is a factor in the weakening of the lower esophagus sphincter.

However, some people may require medication or even surgery. This includes individuals with serious chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease or with symptoms that don’t go away despite the above efforts. 

In these cases, patients must undergo a more exhaustive diagnostic evaluation. Taking medication when they experience symptoms may be enough. However, if the problem persists, they may need long-term treatment or even surgery.

What’s the difference between acid reflux and GERD?

Acid reflux occurs when the muscle at the end of the esophagus doesn’t close correctly. This allows for the content of the stomach to filter up and irritate the esophagus.

So what’s the difference between acid reflux and GERD? When acid reflux is associated with other symptoms or persists beyond childhood, then it’s considered an illness. The same is true when acid reflux occurs on the basis of two or more times per week.

The Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD

In any case, acid reflux has a negative impact on the well-being and quality of life of individuals. GERD patients may experience some less common symptoms, including:

  • Persistent sore throat.
  • Snoring.
  • Chronic cough.
  • Difficulty and pain when swallowing.
  • Asthma.
  • Unexplainable chest pain.
  • Sore throat.
  • The feeling of having a lump in the back of your throat.
  • An uncomfortable feeling of fullness after meals.

In conclusion, we’d like to end this article reminding you that gastroesophageal reflux is a common illness that affects a great number of people. However, treatment can lead to some complications. In any case, it’s important to know that, if untreated, it can lead to even more serious consequences.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.