What's the Difference Between GERD and Acid Reflux?


Commonly, individuals hear the terms “GERD” and “acid reflux” and question if there is a difference or if they are the same. At the surface level, GERD and acid reflux may seem to produce the same main symptom — heartburn. There is a little more to it than that, though. What are the differences between acid reflux and GERD?

The GI providers at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates are here to help you discern the definitions of different GI conditions so you can give attention to your gastrointestinal and overall health. Our San Antonio, TX digestive health specialists want you to feel knowledgeable enough about your options to make the right decisions for you.

What is the cause of acid reflux?

After swallowing, your food and drink will go from your esophagus into your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). In some cases, the LES will fail to close completely and allow the acid to make its way back into the esophagus. This acid reflux causes the common sensation of “heartburn” that many individuals live through.

There can be a number of reasons the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close all the way. This is generally the result of losing strength in a person’s LES. Some causes of this include:

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

Gastroesophageal reflux disease vs. acid reflux

If you have experienced acid reflux a few times or more a week or if heartburn medications don’t minimize these symptoms, it’s possible you could have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Our San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates team members will help you better understand your symptoms and determine if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease or another condition. It can sometimes take a little bit of experimentation to discover a treatment method that helps alleviate your GERD symptoms. However, our team is here to help you along the way.

How is GERD treated?

If you need treatment for GERD in San Antonio, TX, there are several methods of treatment we could try. First, we will review the medications you’re currently taking and your general health to determine if we can adjust some of your daily medications. Some other changes we could suggest include:

  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Remain upright after you eat, and don’t eat three hours before going to bed
  • Make adjustments to your diet, including eating high-fiber foods and avoiding citrus, high-fat, and spicy foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Reduce how much caffeine you drink

If you do not experience relief after trying these adjustments, we have more treatment strategies you may want to try. Such options may include prescription-strength antacids or, as a last resort, surgery.

Find relief from GERD and acid reflux symptoms in San Antonio, TX

The providers at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates are skilled in diagnosing and treating various GI issues, including moderate-to-severe acid reflux. If you’re experiencing GERD or want an effective method for treating your acid reflux, you have options. For more information on how our providers can work with you to find relief from chronic heartburn, call one of our locations in San Antonio, TX today.

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