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Are Acid Reflux and GERD the Same?

If you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, you may have read about GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Are GERD and acid reflux the same thing? Not exactly, and understanding the difference may help you determine which treatment options are right for you.
Acid reflux, specifically, describes stomach acid that flows back into your esophagus from your stomach. Some people experience acid reflux after a large meal or meal that is high in fat or contains spicy foods. For many people, simple lifestyle changes can prevent acid reflux from occurring on a regular basis. Some ways to prevent acid reflux without medical intervention include:

  • Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating smaller portion sizes
  • Avoiding tight clothing
  • Avoiding lying down for 2 to 3 hours after a meal
  • Avoiding foods known to trigger acid reflux, including fatty and fried foods

Acid reflux is one of the most common symptoms of GERD. People who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease experience acid reflux or heartburn two or more times per week and are often unable to find relief with lifestyle changes or over-the-counter medications. GERD is usually caused by a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, the valve responsible for preventing the backflow of acid into the esophagus.
If lifestyle changes and antacids don’t resolve your acid reflux, or if your acid reflux symptoms get progressively worse, you should talk to your doctor about GERD. Additional treatment options are available, including prescription medications and surgery that can address the underlying causes of your reflux.


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