What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Acid Reflux and GERD?


Often, adults hear or see the phrases “GERD” and “acid reflux” and question if they are the same condition. While they do seem to have the same main symptom — indigestion (commonly referred to as heartburn) — there is a great deal more to it than that. What actually are the differences between acid reflux and GERD, then?

The GI providers at Utah Gastroenterology are able to help you comprehend the basics of the numerous GI conditions so you can give attention to your gastrointestinal (GI) and overall health. Our digestive health specialists serve patients throughout the Salt Lake City and St. George, UT areas and want you to know enough about your GI health to make informed decisions regarding treatment.

What brings about acid reflux?

When swallowing, your food or drink will move from your esophagus to your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter, known as the LES. Sometimes, the LES will fail to close completely, and the acid formed during this step flows back into the esophagus. This acid leads to the “heartburn” sensation many suffer.

There can be various reasons the lower esophageal sphincter can’t close all the way. While it is usually because of weakness in a person’s LES, certain factors can lead to this weakness. Some of these include:

  • High-fat or low-fiber diets
  • Obesity
  • A diet that includes spicy foods
  • Cigarette smoking or other tobacco use
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine use

GERD vs. acid reflux

If you experience acid reflux symptoms more than a few times a week or if heartburn medications don’t suppress your heartburn, you could be suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Our Utah Gastroenterology team members are here to help you understand your symptoms and determine if you are experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease or another condition. It can sometimes take some experimentation to discover the right treatment for you. However, our GI specialists are ready to help you.

How will my GERD be treated?

If you’re in need of GERD treatment in Salt Lake City or St. George, UT, there are several methods of treatment we can suggest. Initially, we will look at your medications and health history to decide if we should adjust your meds. Some other adjustments we might recommend are:

  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Lose weight if necessary
  • Stay sitting up after each meal
  • Don’t eat three hours before bedtime
  • Adjust your diet to include higher fiber foods and fewer foods that include citrus, high-fat, or spice
  • Eat slower than normal

If you don’t find relief from your symptoms after trying these modifications, we have more treatment strategies you may consider. Some options could include prescribed antacids or, as a last resort, a surgical procedure.

Find relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms in Utah

Our team of gastroenterologists at Utah Gastroenterology is skilled in diagnosing and treating various GI illnesses, such as moderate-to-severe acid reflux. If you’re experiencing GERD or want to find a way to manage your condition, you have several options. For more information on how we can help you find relief from your acid reflux, contact one of our locations in the Salt Lake City or St. George, UT areas.

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