What Is the Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD?


Many people hear or see the expressions “GERD” and “acid reflux” and are unsure whether there is a difference between the two or if they are the same. In general, they can seem to produce the same primary symptom — heartburn. There is more to it than just heartburn, though. What are the differences between GERD and acid reflux?

The GI specialists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas are here to help you discern the ins and outs of the many GI conditions so you can focus on your gastrointestinal and general health. Our Dallas, TX digestive health specialists want you to have enough information to make health decisions that will benefit you.

What is the cause of acid reflux?

After you swallow, your food or drink will flow from your esophagus into your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter, better known as the LES. In some instances, the LES doesn’t close completely and can allow the acid to move back up into the esophagus. This process leads to the feeling of heartburn many people will experience.

There are several reasons the LES cannot close all the way. This is usually due to a loss of strength in the lower esophageal sphincter. Some reasons for this include:

  • Cigarette smoking or other tobacco use
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine use
  • A high-fat, low-fiber diet
  • Specific medications
  • Obesity
  • A diet full of spicy foods

GERD vs. acid reflux

If you experience acid reflux more than a few times a week or if acid reflux medications don’t help your heartburn, you may suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Our Digestive Health Associates of Texas gastroenterologists can help you understand these symptoms and determine if you suffer from GERD. It could take a little bit of trial and error to discover a method of treatment that helps alleviate your symptoms. However, our providers are here to aid you during treatment.

How will my GERD be treated?

If you are in need of GERD treatment in Dallas, TX, there are various methods of treatment we could try. To begin, we will review the medications you’re currently taking and your general health to establish if we can adjust any of your meds. Some other standard solutions we could suggest are:

  • Remain upright after you eat
  • Don’t eat three hours prior to going to bed
  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Make adjustments to your diet to include eating foods high in fiber and avoid foods that include citrus, high fat, or spices
  • Eat slowly
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese

If you don’t get relief from your symptoms after using these adjustments, there are other treatment options you could try. Some of these may include prescription-strength antacids or, as a last resort, surgery.

Find relief from GERD and acid reflux symptoms in Dallas, TX

The GI doctors at Digestive Health Associates of Texas are skilled in diagnosing and treating various GI ailments, such as varying degrees of acid reflux. If you’re suffering from GERD or searching for a favorable way to manage your GERD, several options are available. For more information on how board-certified gastroenterologists can work with you to find relief from your acid reflux, contact one of our locations in Dallas, TX.

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