Is There a Difference Between Acid Reflux vs. GERD?


For many adults, “GERD” and “acid reflux” seem to be the same thing. In general, they can seem to have the same primary symptom — heartburn. There is more to it than just heartburn, however. What are the differences between these conditions?

The GI physicians at Denver Digestive Health Specialists are here to help you understand the differences between the numerous GI conditions so you can take care of your GI and general health. Our Denver, CO digestive health specialists want you to be confident enough about any conditions you may have in order to make sound treatment decisions.

What causes acid reflux?

After swallowing, your food or drink will flow from your esophagus into your stomach through the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). There are times when the lower esophageal sphincter won’t close all the way, though, and the acid developed during this process goes back up into the esophagus. This process leads to the familiar sensation of “heartburn."

There may be many reasons the lower esophageal sphincter does not completely close. This is often caused by a loss of strength in an individual’s lower esophageal sphincter. Some reasons for this are:

  • Too much caffeine
  • Obesity
  • Eating a lot of spicy foods
  • Tobacco use
  • High-fat or low-fiber diets
  • Alcohol
  • Certain medications

Acid reflux vs. gastroesophageal reflux disease

If you have experienced acid reflux symptoms more than a few times a week or if medications don’t help your heartburn, you very well could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Our Denver Digestive Health Specialists gastroenterologists are ready to help you better understand these symptoms and decide if you have GERD or something else. It can sometimes take a bit of trial and error to find a treatment that helps alleviate your acid reflux or GERD symptoms; however, our providers are ready to help you along the way.

How can GERD be treated?

When you’re seeking GERD treatment in Denver, CO, there are many treatment methods we could try. First, we will look at your medications and overall health to establish if any of your daily medications contribute to your symptoms. Some other standard adjustments we could suggest include:

  • Lose weight if suggested by your doctor
  • Make adjustments to your diet to include eating foods high in fiber and steer clear of citrus, high-fat foods, and spicy foods
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Sleep elevated
  • Eat slowly
  • Sit up after you eat
  • Don’t eat three hours before going to sleep

If you don’t experience relief after attempting these adjustments, we can work with you to consider other treatment options. Such options could include prescribed antacids or, as a last result, surgery.

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

Our GI doctors at Denver Digestive Health Specialists can diagnose and treat several other gastrointestinal illnesses, like acid reflux. If you’re experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease or are searching for a favorable way to manage your GERD, you have options. To learn more about how our team of GI doctors can help you find relief from your acid reflux, call one of our locations in Denver, CO at your earliest convenience.

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