What's the Difference Between GERD vs. Acid Reflux?


Often, individuals hear the terms “GERD” and “acid reflux” and debate if there is any difference or if they are the same condition. On the surface, these conditions can appear to cause the same primary symptom — heartburn. There is a great deal more to it than simply heartburn, though. What, then, are the differences between acid reflux and GERD?

The GI specialists at Digestive Health Center can help you understand the ins and outs of the various GI conditions to optimize your gastrointestinal and overall health. Our Ocean Springs, MS digestive health specialists want you to feel knowledgeable enough about your options to make sound decisions that can help you.

What is the cause of acid reflux?

When swallowing, your food and drink pass from your esophagus to your stomach through the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). Sometimes, the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close fully, and the acid that has developed goes back up into the esophagus. This acid reflux leads to the common feeling of “heartburn” many people experience.

There may be many reasons the lower esophageal sphincter can’t close all the way. This is often the result of a loss of strength in a person’s LES. Some explanations for this are:

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

Acid reflux vs. Gastroesophageal reflux disease

If you experience acid reflux 2 – 3 times or more a week or if heartburn medications don’t suppress these feelings, it’s possible you may be suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Our Digestive Health Center team members can help you better understand your symptoms and determine if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease or another condition. Sometimes, it can take some trial and error to find a method of treatment that helps alleviate your acid reflux symptoms. However, our team is available to assist you during treatment.

How will my GERD be treated?

If you’re searching for GERD treatment in Ocean Springs, MS, there are a number of treatment methods we can try. First, we will look at the medications you’re currently taking and your health history to decide if we can adjust some of your daily medications. Other common adjustments we may recommend are:

  • Eat slower than normal
  • Make adjustments to your diet to include foods high in fiber and steer clear of citrus or high-fat and spicy foods
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Remain upright following your meals, and don’t eat three hours prior to going to bed
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Sleep at an incline

Should you not get relief from your symptoms after using one or more of these methods, there are other treatment strategies you could consider. Such options may include prescription-strength antacids or, as a last resort, a surgical procedure.

Get relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms in Ocean Springs, MS

The team of gastroenterologists at Digestive Health Center is available to diagnose and treat a wide range of gastrointestinal illnesses, including varying degrees of acid reflux. If you’re suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease or are searching for a favorable way to treat your condition, there are options. For more information on how our team can work with you to find relief from chronic heartburn, contact one of our Ocean Springs, MS locations today.

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