How Do GERD and Acid Reflux Differ?


Most people hear the phrases “GERD” (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and “acid reflux” and question if there is variation between them or if they are one and the same. On the surface, the two conditions may seem to produce the same primary symptom — a burning pain in the chest or heartburn. There is a little more to it than just heartburn, however. What, then, are the differences between acid reflux and GERD?

The GI specialists at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants are available to help you understand various GI conditions so you can focus on your gastrointestinal (GI) and overall health. Our Texas digestive health specialists want you to feel knowledgeable about any conditions you have so you can make sound decisions for your wellness and well-being.

What causes acid reflux?

When swallowing, food and/or drink passes from your esophagus into your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter, often referred to as the LES. There are times when the lower esophageal sphincter fails to close fully and can allow the acid formed during this process to make its way back up into the esophagus. This acid leads to the sensation known as “heartburn” many individuals experience.

There may be several reasons the lower esophageal sphincter does not close completely. This is generally the result of weakness in the LES. Some causes of this include:

  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco use
  • Certain medications
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy and fatty foods
  • High-fat and low-fiber diets

Gastroesophageal reflux disease vs. acid reflux

If you experience acid reflux symptoms more than 2 – 3 times a week or if acid reflux medications do not minimize your acid reflux, you may have GERD.

The providers at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants can help you understand these symptoms and determine if you are experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease or a different GI condition. It can sometimes take a bit of trial and error to discover a treatment that helps alleviate your GERD symptoms. However, our team is here to help you throughout this journey.

How is GERD treated?

If you are searching for GERD treatment in Texas, there are a number of options we could try. Initially, we will review any medications you currently take and your health history to determine if we can adjust any of your medications. Other common changes we might suggest include:

  • Lose weight if needed
  • Sleep at an incline
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Sit up after you eat, and do not eat three hours before going to sleep
  • Make adjustments to your diet, increasing the intake of fiber and avoiding citrus, high-fat, and spicy foods
  • Eat slower than normal

If you do not experience acid reflux relief after using at least one of these modifications, there are other options you could try. Some of these include prescribed antacids or, as a last resort, surgery.

Find relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms in Texas

Our providers at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants are skilled in diagnosing and treating a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including moderate-to-severe acid reflux. Should you experience gastroesophageal reflux disease or need an effective way to treat your condition, you have options. For more information on how our team can help you find relief from acid reflux or GERD, reach out to one of our locations in Texas today.

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