How Do Acid Reflux and GERD Differ?


When people hear the terms “GERD” and “acid reflux,” they often wonder if they are the same or different conditions. On the surface, these gastrointestinal (GI) issues may seem to cause the same main symptom — heartburn. There is more to it than just heartburn, however. What, then, are the differences between these conditions?

The team at Digestive Health Specialists can help you comprehend the differences between various gastrointestinal conditions so you can optimize your GI and general wellness. Our Kansas City, MO digestive health specialists want you to be knowledgeable about any symptoms you may have so that you can make sound decisions regarding your health.

What are the causes of acid reflux?

After swallowing, food and/or drink will move from your esophagus to your stomach through the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). Sometimes, the LES doesn’t close fully, and the acid that has developed flows back into the esophagus. This acid is what causes the feeling of “heartburn” many individuals have.

There are several reasons the lower esophageal sphincter might not fully close. This is generally the result of weakness in the LES. Some explanations for this involve:

  • A high-fat, low-fiber diet
  • A diet that includes spicy or fatty foods
  • Too much caffeine
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking or other tobacco use
  • Certain medications

Acid reflux vs. gastroesophageal reflux disease

If you have acid reflux symptoms 2 – 3 times or more a week or if acid reflux medications don’t help your heartburn, you may be suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Our Digestive Health Specialists team can help you understand these symptoms and discern if you have GERD or a different GI condition. Sometimes it can take a bit of experimentation to find a treatment that helps alleviate GERD symptoms. However, our providers are available to assist you.

How is GERD treated?

If you need GERD treatment in Kansas City, MO, there are a number of methods we may try to help provide relief. Initially, we will go over any medications you’re currently taking and your health history to determine if any of your medications may need to be adjusted. Other solutions we may recommend include:

  • Drink less caffeine
  • Modify your diet to include high-fiber foods
  • Avoid eating citrus, high-fat, and spicy foods
  • Remain sitting up after you eat
  • Finish eating at least three hours before going to bed
  • Eat slower than normal
  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Lose weight if suggested by your doctor

If you don’t experience relief from your symptoms after trying one or more of these suggestions, there are other treatment options you may want to try. These might include prescription-strength antacids or surgery (typically as a last resort).

Get relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms in Kansas City, MO

The GI specialists at Digestive Health Specialists are skilled in diagnosing and treating various GI issues. If you're experiencing heartburn or searching for a favorable way to treat acid reflux or GERD, we can help. For more information on how we can help you find relief from acid reflux or GERD symptoms, please contact one of our Kansas City, MO locations to request a consultation.

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