GERD is so much more than heartburn and acid reflux. Often patients use the term “acid reflux disease” as a blanket statement when they really just mean that they are experiencing heartburn. Acid reflux isn’t the same thing as GERD, so acid reflux treatment won’t be able to cure your GERD. Basically, acid reflux is an action, while GERD is the actual disease and heartburn is a symptom.
The Difference Between GERD and Acid Reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease which occurs when stomach contents such as acid, food or bile flow back into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash is what we call acid reflux and it irritates the lining of the esophagus, causing GERD. This process often results in heartburn symptoms.
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Over 60 Million people suffer daily from chronic heartburn and prevalence of GERD symptoms have increased by over 47% in the last 10 years. Other GERD symptoms in addition to heartburn include:
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Sore Throat/Hoarseness
- Waking up choking
- Loss of smell/taste
- Frequent burping/”Wet Burps”
- Sour taste in throat
- Bad breath
- Tooth enamel erosion
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it could mean that you have GERD but remember that the only way you can know for sure is by scheduling an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Only a GI specialist can diagnose GERD and help you develop an appropriate GERD treatment plan. There are different stages of GERD and over time it can progress, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for your specific case.