You’ve no doubt heard of terms like acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD, but do you know the difference? These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not all the same. Here, we will look at acid reflex vs heartburn vs GERD, so that you can better treat whatever is causing you distress.
- What does heartburn feel like? It is a burning feeling either behind the breastbone, in the throat, or in your neck. When people are pregnant or overweight, they are more likely to experience heartburn, and the sensation is often worse after eating, at night, or when bending over or lying down.
- So, is there a difference between heartburn and acid reflux? In fact, acid reflux is what causes heartburn. If you have acid reflux, it means that your stomach contents, either food or acids, wash up from your stomach to your throat, through the esophagus. In addition to heartburn, acid reflux can cause you to taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth, which can make you feel uncomfortable or even sick.
- When you’re talking about GERD vs acid reflux, you’re really discussing different levels of the same issue. GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and it is the same thing as acid reflux, but more serious. While they each involve backflow of stomach acid, this backflow is chronic with GERD and can cause serious damage to the body over time. Both GERD and acid reflux cause heartburn, but GERD can also cause regurgitation, chest pain, a burning sensation in the stomach, dry cough, shortness of breath, and trouble swallowing. It can also cause ulcers, lead to asthma symptoms, and create dental problems by eroding tooth enamel. In rare cases, GERD can lead to cancer of the esophagus. Sometimes, people even confuse GERD symptoms for a heart attack, because it can feel very similar. It’s wise to call 911 if you have heartburn, chest pain, and arm pain at the same time.
How To Treat These Issues
How are these different issues treated? Heartburn can typically be controlled with over-the-counter antacids. If it doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications, it’s time to see your doctor and find out if it could be GERD. Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist, a digestive system specialist who can provide comprehensive care. You may need a diagnostic test called an endoscopy, in which a thin, flexible tube with a small camera is send down the throat to provide a more thorough examination of the esophagus.
There are different treatment options available to people with heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD. The gastroenterologist might suggest lifestyle changes, including eliminating trigger foods like citrus fruits, tomato-based foods, onions, garlic, and chocolate, or high-fat, spicy, or fried foods. Coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, and alcohol can all cause GERD and acid reflux, and so can wearing tight clothes. You may be able to alleviate your symptoms by quitting smoking, or by something as simple as avoiding meals at night and elevating your head while you sleep. If lifestyle modification isn’t enough, your doctor might want to try medication. Antacids can help, and H2-receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors can reduce the production of stomach acid. If GERD persists, surgery may be recommended.
Schedule An Appointment with Advanced Functional Medicine
At Advanced Functional Medicine, an integrated medical clinic, we exclusively practice functional medicine. A full functional medicine approach to healing uses a comprehensive diagnostic screening to get to the root of a patient’s issues. Our whole body approach to medicine utilizes all-natural, researched-based nutritional approaches to optimize the body’s natural healing abilities, rather than just using medication to treat symptoms. Each individual receives unique and customized care, formulated based on the latest scientific resource, and we have a 96 percent success rate in patient outcomes. As a medically driven, patient-focused health clinic, we support our patients’ individual health goals, providing natural relief for symptoms of chronic factors and expert guidance about the decisions affecting a patient’s long-term health. It is our goal to help reverse chronic disease without resorting to dangerous or unnecessary drugs or surgical interventions, promoting healing from the inside out, in its truest, healthiest form. To schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help restore your health and strengthen your body’s unique physiological functions, call 858-500-5572 or contact us through our website.