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Simple Heartburn Versus Acid Reflux Disease or GERD

Updated on April 17, 2017


Stomach | Source

Heartburn Versus Acid Reflux Disease

Nearly everyone experiences occasional heartburn from time to time, known as the burning sensations in your chest or throat that can be quite painful. If a person experiences heartburn more than twice a week however, it’s possible they may actually have acid reflux disease. This is referred to as gastro esophageal reflux disease, or more commonly known as GERD.

What is GERD?

GERD is a condition when the muscles toward the bottom of the esophagus do not close properly, allowing stomach contents and acids to back up into the esophagus.

Common symptoms of GERD are:

Burning feeling in the chest and throat


Excessive salivating


Chronic cough

Hoarseness of voice or laryngitis


Erosion of dental enamel


Symptoms most commonly occur after eating a heavy meal, when bending over or lifting an object. Lying down, especially on your back can aggravate symptoms, most often at night. They can produce unbearable pain. The degree of pain is not a reliable indicator of how much damage your esophagus may or may not be having.

Silent Reflux

Laryngopharyngeal reflux produces respiratory and laryngeal symptoms and is unlikely to produce heartburn; this form is known as silent reflux.

Prevention or Reducing Heartburn Symptoms

There are lifestyle changes that can be implemented to prevent, or reduce the severity of heartburn symptoms.

Avoid smoking and smoke filled environments

Avoid caffeine

Avoid spicy and greasy foods

Wear loose fitting clothes

Eat smaller meals frequently during the day; refrain from eating 2 hours before bedtime

Avoid chocolate, mint, citrus fruits, onions, and carbonate drinks

Some medications exacerbate symptoms

Higher protein diets seem to help many individuals

There are actually three types of treatments available, most common being lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery.

Your medical professional will recommend the one most suitable to your specific case.

One of the most common tests a doctor may perform is called an upper GI (gastrointestinal) endoscopy, also called esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD. A patient is put under light sedation and a small camera is inserted through the mouth, to allow the doctor to see if there’s damage to the esophagus or stomach. Doctors are also looking for possible underlying causes and any abnormalities in that region. For more information on other tests used see What if GERD symptoms persist.

Some of the factors associated with GERD are obstructive sleep apnea, and gallstones. Gallstones can impede the flow of bile into the duodenum and can influence the stomach’s ability to neutralize gastric acids.

It is important to seek medical treatment if you are experiencing more than occasional heartburn. Heartburn can be associated with other health related problems that only your doctor can diagnose and properly treat.

Warnings and Disclaimers

The statements of this article are not meant to substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. Its contents are not meant to diagnose, cure, treat, or provide relief for any condition.

Sources: Family Doctor

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse


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