Heartburn and acid reflux are often used interchangeably, but what exactly is acid reflux — and are there ways to avoid it?
Acid Reflux vs Heartburn
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus (a tube that connects the throat and the stomach)1. When you experience acid reflux, you may taste regurgitated food, or even a sour sensation, in the back of your throat. Heartburn arises2 when that stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus and causes a “burning” sensation in the throat or chest.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a severe, and chronic, form of acid reflux1. Symptoms of GERD include frequent heartburn, difficulty swallowing, coughing, and chest pain.
So even though you may hear “acid reflux” and “heartburn” used to describe the same thing, heartburn is actually caused by acid reflux.
How to Beat Acid Reflux
While people suffering from GERD or frequent acid reflux should visit their doctors (and may be prescribed medication to tackle the problem), there are ways to help lessen instances of occasional acid reflux (and the heartburn that can come with it).
According to Harvard Medical School, there are nine simple tricks you can use3:
- Eat smaller meals, and eat them slowly
- Avoid typical trigger foods, like spicy, acidic fare or whatever personal triggers you have
- Limit drinking carbonated beverages
- Don’t lie down after eating
- Don’t exercise after eating
- Use wooden bed risers at the head of your bed to help you sleep at an incline
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Quit smoking
- Ask your doctor if any of your medicines may be causing the discomfort
Antacids are not for treating GERD. However, antacids such as TUMS are one of the fastest ways to treat occasional heartburn caused by acid reflux. Known as America’s number-one antacid, TUMS provides fast relief from heartburn, sour stomach, and acid indigestion. And TUMS Chewy Bites now come in a cooling fruit fusion flavor.