Acid Reflux & GERD
Acid Reflux and GERD are tied closely together. Here's an easy way to know the difference: Acid Reflux occurs when the acid in your stomach backs up, or refluxes, into your esophagus, causing heartburn. And Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is chronic or recurring acid reflux.
Many things can cause acid reflux, including favorite food like coffee and chocolate, being overweight or pregnant, eating too much or too quickly.
But, what's actually happening inside? At the entrance of your stomach is the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle that opens to let food in and closes tight to keep food and acid in the stomach. If this muscle doesn't close all the way or opens too often, acid can reflux into your esophagus causing heartburn.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn. But, you don't necessarily need to feel heartburn if you're suffering from acid reflux. Another common symptom is feeling acid back up into your throat, cause a sour or bitter taste in the mouth. You might also experience a “wet burp” or even vomit.
See your doctor if you experience symptoms more than twice a week
What causes GERD?
Since GERD is chronic acid reflux, the same causes apply—eating spicy, fatty, fried, or acidic foods, being overweight or pregnant, and smoking are also associated with GERD.
Doctors typically will say you have GERD if you experience acid reflux at least twice per week. As that level of frequency, it suggests there might be something wrong with the muscle between your stomach and esophagus, or there might be other issues going on.
What are the symptoms of GERD?
The symptoms of GERD are similar to those of heartburn—a burning sensation in your chest, a sour or bitter taste in your throat, difficulty swallowing, and chest pain after lying down.
How serious is GERD?
When your esophagus or throat is regularly exposed to stomach it can become inflamed or painful. This could affect your ability to swallow, breathe and even speak. If left untreated, GERD may lead to serious health problems and only your doctor can tell you if you have it.
Talk to a healthcare professional if:
- You experience heartburn or acid reflux more than once a week
- You still suffer from heartburn even after taking over-the-counter or prescription heartburn medications
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe over time
- Your heartburn symptoms start lasting longer or become more frequent
- You experience severe hoarseness or wheezing
- Swallowing food or pills becomes difficult or painful