What's the Difference Between GERD and Acid Reflux?


Individuals frequently hear or see “GERD” and “acid reflux” and assume they are the same. On the surface, the two may seem to produce the same primary symptom — indigestion (commonly referred to as heartburn). There is more to it than just heartburn, though. What, exactly, are the differences between these conditions?

The GI providers at Colorado Gastroenterology can help you understand the different digestive conditions so you can focus on your GI and general health. Our Denver, CO digestive health specialists want you to be certain enough about any conditions you may have to make decisions that benefit you.

What brings about acid reflux?

After you swallow, your food will migrate from your esophagus to your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter, known as the LES. In some cases, the LES will fail to close all the way, allowing the developed acid to go back into the esophagus. This acid leads to the heartburn many men and women experience.

There can be various reasons the LES doesn’t close completely. This is often caused by lost strength in an individual’s LES. Some common causes of this include:

  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Eating a lot of spicy foods
  • Specific medications
  • High-fat or low-fiber diets
  • Too much caffeine

GERD vs. acid reflux

If you have experienced heartburn 2 – 3 times or more a week or if medications don’t help your heartburn, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Our Colorado Gastroenterology providers will help you understand your symptoms and determine if you are suffering from GERD or another gastro condition. Once a diagnosis is made, it may require some trial and error to discover a treatment method that helps alleviate your GERD symptoms. However, our GI specialists are here to aid you along the way.

How is GERD treated?

If you’re searching for treatment for GERD in Denver, CO, we can try several treatment methods. Initially, we will go over the medications you’re currently taking and your health history to determine if we should adjust your daily medications. Some other solutions we could recommend are:

  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Lose weight if necessary
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Stay sitting up after you eat
  • Don’t eat three hours prior to bedtime
  • Adjust your diet to include foods high in fiber and avoid citrus, high-fat, and spicy foods
  • Eat slower than normal

If you don't find relief after attempting at least one of these modifications, there are other options you could consider. These may include prescription-strength antacids or, typically as a last resort, a surgical procedure.

Find relief from GERD and acid reflux symptoms in Denver, CO

The providers at Colorado Gastroenterology are experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of GI illnesses, such as moderate-to-severe acid reflux. If you’re experiencing GERD or want to explore the different ways to treat your condition, you have options. For more information on how we can assist you when finding relief from your GERD symptoms, reach out to one of our locations in Denver, CO today.

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