How Do Acid Reflux and GERD Differ?


Many individuals hear the terms “GERD” and “acid reflux” and wonder if there is a difference or if they are the same condition. At the surface level, the two may seem to produce the same primary symptom — a burning pain in the chest or heartburn. There is more to it than just heartburn, though. So, then, what are the differences between acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)?

At Adult Gastroenterology Associates, we can help you understand the effects of digestive conditions so you can optimize your gastrointestinal (GI) and overall health. Our Tulsa, OK digestive health specialists want you to feel educated enough about GI conditions to make decisions that will be of benefit to you.

What causes acid reflux?

When you swallow, food and/or drink passes from your esophagus into your stomach through a structure called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). In some cases, the lower esophageal sphincter does not close completely and allows stomach acid to push back up into the esophagus. This reflux of acid is what causes the common sensation of “heartburn” many individuals experience.

There are several reasons the lower esophageal sphincter might not close completely. This is often caused by weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter. Common causes of this involve:

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

Acid reflux vs. GERD

If you have experienced heartburn 2 – 3 times or more a week or if medications fail to ease these effects, you could be suffering from GERD.

Our Adult Gastroenterology Associates team can help you understand your symptoms and determine if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or a different GI condition. It can sometimes take some experimentation to discover a treatment method that helps alleviate GERD or acid reflux symptoms. However, our team of providers is ready to assist you during treatment.

How is GERD treated?

If you are seeking GERD treatment in Tulsa, OK, there are a number of treatment methods we may try. First, we will go over your current medications and health history to determine if we should adjust your medications. Other changes we might suggest include:

  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Stay sitting up after you eat
  • Finish eating three hours before bedtime
  • Eat more slowly
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Adjust your diet to include high-fiber foods
  • Avoid citrus, high-fat, and spicy foods

If you do not experience acid reflux relief after trying these modifications, there are treatment options you may want to consider. These may include prescribed antacids or, typically a last resort, a surgical procedure.

Find relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms in Tulsa, OK

The providers at Adult Gastroenterology Associates can diagnose and treat a wide range of GI illnesses, including varying degrees of acid reflux. If you are suffering from GERD or looking for a beneficial way to treat your acid reflux, know you have options. To learn more about how our GI specialists can help you find relief from GERD or acid reflux symptoms, contact one of our Tulsa, OK locations today.

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