Is There a Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD?


Often, adults hear or see the words “GERD” and “acid reflux” and wonder if they are the same. At the surface level, the two may seem to produce the same primary symptom — indigestion (commonly called "heartburn"). There is a great deal more to it than simply heartburn, however. What, then, are the differences between these conditions?

The GI doctors at GastroArkansas are available to help you comprehend the ins and outs of the numerous gastro conditions so you can give attention to your GI and general health. Our Little Rock, AR digestive health specialists want you to be confident enough about your options to make decisions that benefit you and that you feel good about.

What brings about acid reflux?

After swallowing, your food will migrate from your esophagus into your stomach through the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). In some cases, the lower esophageal sphincter fails to close fully, allowing the acid to go back into the esophagus. This acid leads to the common feeling of “heartburn."

There are various reasons why the LES will not close completely. This is typically caused by a loss of strength in the lower esophageal sphincter. Some common causes of this include:

  • Caffeine consumption
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Specific medications
  • A diet full of spicy and/or fatty foods

Acid reflux vs. gastroesophageal reflux disease

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

Our GastroArkansas providers are ready to help you better understand your symptoms and establish if you are dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease or something else. Sometimes it can take a bit of trial and error to discover a method of treatment that helps alleviate your acid reflux symptoms; however, our team is available to assist you.

How is GERD treated?

If you are looking for treatment for GERD in Little Rock, AR, there are a variety of treatments we can try. Initially, we will look at the medications you’re currently taking and your health history to determine if we should adjust any of your daily medications. Other solutions we may suggest are:

  • Reduce how much caffeine you drink
  • Lose weight if suggested by your doctor
  • Sleep at an incline
  • Sit up after you eat
  • Don’t eat three hours before bedtime
  • Adjust your diet to include eating high-fiber foods and stay clear of citrus or high-fat and spicy foods
  • Eat more slowly

If you don’t get relief from your symptoms after attempting at least one of these adjustments, we have more treatment options you may try. Some options may include prescribed antacids or, often as a last result, surgery.

Find relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms in Little Rock, AR

The team of gastroenterologists at GastroArkansas is able to diagnose and treat a variety of GI conditions, such as acid reflux. If you have GERD or are looking for a favorable way to treat your GERD, there are options. To learn more about how our providers can work with you to find relief from your chronic heartburn, reach out to one of our locations in Little Rock, AR today.

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