What Are the Differences Between Acid Reflux vs. GERD?


Frequently, people hear or see the words “GERD” and “acid reflux” and debate if there is any difference between the two or if they’re the same. In general, the two may seem to cause the same primary symptom — a burning pain in the chest or heartburn. However, there is much more to it than that. What, then, are the differences between these conditions?

The gastroenterologists at Specialists in Gastroenterology are available to help you discern the differences between various GI conditions so you can optimize your GI and overall health. Our St. Louis, MO digestive health specialists want you to be confident enough about any conditions you may have to make sound decisions that are right for you.

What brings about acid reflux?

After swallowing, your food and drink will move from your esophagus to your stomach through what is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Sometimes, the LES won’t close fully, allowing the acid to return to the esophagus. This acid causes the sensation known as “heartburn” that many men and women experience.

There may be several reasons the LES does not close completely. This is usually because of a loss of strength in an individual’s lower esophageal sphincter. Some reasons for this include:

  • Spicy and fatty foods
  • Specific medications
  • Caffeine use
  • A diet high in fat and low in fiber
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol

Gastroesophageal reflux disease vs. acid reflux

If you happen to experience acid reflux more than a few times a week or if acid reflux medications don’t suppress these feelings, it’s possible you may have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Our St. Louis, MO providers are ready to help you understand these symptoms and determine if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or a different GI condition. Sometimes, it can take some trial and error to discover the proper treatment that helps alleviate GERD or acid reflux symptoms. However, our providers are ready to assist you during treatment.

How is GERD treated?

When you’re seeking out treatment for GERD, there are a number of treatment methods we can try out. First, we will review your medications and your health history to determine if we can adjust some of your meds. Some other changes we may suggest are:

  • Sleeping elevated
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Sit up after each meal and don’t eat three hours before going to sleep
  • Make adjustments to your diet to include foods high in fiber and avoid citrus, high-fat, and spicy foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Drink less caffeine

If you don’t find acid reflux relief after attempting these suggestions, there are more options you could try. Some of your options include prescription-strength antacids or, typically as a last resort, a surgical procedure.

Find relief from GERD and acid reflux symptoms in St. Louis, MO

The GI specialists at Specialists in Gastroenterology are experienced in diagnosing and treating several gastrointestinal illnesses, like acid reflux. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or are looking for a favorable method for treating your acid reflux, you have options. For more information on how GI specialists can help you find relief from chronic heartburn, reach out to one of our locations in St. Louis, MO.

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