Most people cannot find the difference among heartburn, GERD, and acid reflux. Although it might look like that all three are similar, acid reflux is a condition that can be mild to serious. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is an ailment more severe than heartburn. Lastly, a heartburn is a symptom of the two disorders.
For you to avoid having acid reflux and GERD, you must avoid getting heartburn. But the real question now is: How will you find heartburn relief? Read on.
What is Acid Reflux?
As its name suggests, acid reflux is when the acid in your stomach goes up to your esophagus. This is only possible when your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weak or is not functioning properly.
To be precise, your stomach contains a strong acid called hydrochloric acid that is responsible for breaking down food and protecting your body against bacteria. Although your stomach is adapted to strong acids, your esophagus is not. This is why when your LES failed to work and the hydrochloric acid passes down to your esophagus, you will feel a pain. Hence, you are experiencing acid reflux.
Usually, if you have acid reflux, you will feel a burning pain in your stomach after eating. Below are the other symptoms of acid reflux:
- Burning pain up to your breastbone
- Sore throat
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Bitter taste coming from the throat
Anyone can have acid reflux. It can be you, your family, or even your friends. But most of the time, having acid reflux comes from your lifestyle such as smoking, low levels of exercise, obesity, and taking medications. This is why you must maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid this ailment.
There are also times when the food that you take can cause acid reflux. So be sure that you avoid or take small amounts of the following:
- Carbonated drinks
- Acidic juices
- High intake of table salt
- Large meals
- Low in dietary fiber
- Lying down after meals
Do not worry, though, there are ways to cure acid reflux. Studies show that you can take medications such as H2 blockers, PPIs, over-the-counter treatments, or alginate drugs.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD is a combination of heartburn and acid reflux. It occurs usually twice a week or sometimes once a week. It is a disorder that has an impact in your LES and the muscle between your stomach and esophagus.
Gastroesophageal is a term that represents the stomach and the esophagus. Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, a reflex is when the acid from your stomach goes back up to your esophagus. This means that gastroesophageal reflux happens when the food in your stomach goes to your esophagus.
Now, that description might be familiar right? This is where people interchange GERD and acid reflux. The difference is that GERD happens more frequently as compared with acid reflux. Also, the causes of GERD pertains to long-lasting habits such as smoking, hiatal hernia, and taking medicines that can weaken your LES.
The usual victims of GERD are infants. This is because their stomachs are smaller compared with teenagers and older people. This is why if you think that your baby has GERD, be sure to check with your doctor. The following are the symptoms of GERD for babies:
- Not gaining weight
- Breathing difficulties
- Unable to eat
- Feeling irritable after eating
- Spitting up
When this sickness is not treated immediately, you might have ulcer and bleeding. The worst case could be your esophagus changing cells, which is called Barrett’s esophagus. When this happens, you have a higher risk of having adenocarcinoma, which is a type of cancer in the esophagus.
To prevent this from happening, you can avoid these foods to lower your chances of having acid in your stomach.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Greasy and salty food
- High-fat food
- Spicy food
You can also avoid smoking and not wearing tight-fitting clothing. Instead, you eat small meals and sit upright after eating. There are also medications that you take such as H2 blockers, antacids, prokinetics, and proton pump inhibitors.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a pain that you feel in your chest that usually lasts for minutes to hours. It does not necessarily mean that your heart is burning. Instead, it is an irritation in your esophagus. This happens when an acid from your stomach goes up to your esophagus, which you must now be familiar with: acid reflux. Heartburn is usually connected with hyperacidity.
The pain intensifies usually at night, after eating, or when bending down. Some of the common heartburn causes are eating citrus products, fatty meals, and onions, among others. Those who are pregnant and obese can suffer from this illness as well.
Apart from feeling the burning sensation in your chest, other symptoms that can lead to heartburn are acid reflux and GERD. Which is why if you know that you are experiencing heartburn, you can do any of these heartburn remedies:
- Keeping a healthy diet
- Avoid eating while lying down
- Avoid lifting heavy materials
- Avoid smoking
- Taking the prescribed medications such as PPIs and antacids
If you are unsure what to do, you can always consult your doctor first. After all, they have much knowledge about heartburn than yourself.
Overall, acid reflux and GERD happens when acid from your stomach goes up to your esophagus. The difference is that GERD appears more often than acid reflux. Also, heartburn is a symptom of both GERD and acid reflux. It is a burning sensation that you feel in your chest when acids are moving to your esophagus.
There are different ways to cure these illnesses. But if you want to be sure that you avoid these, it is best that you keep yourself healthy by having enough exercise. You can also take precautions by avoiding some food. You can even take some medications as long as these are prescribed by your doctor.