Difference between GERD and Acid Reflux

Key Difference: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a medical condition in which digestive acid in the stomach flows into the esophagus causing pain and discomfort. The disease is caused by changes in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus.  Acid reflux is a condition when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the one-way valve referred to above relaxes allowing the digestive acid in the stomach to flow backwards into the esophagus.

GERD is a serious condition that people suffer from which is caused by continuous acid reflux. GERD and Acid reflux are actually related as acid reflux is actually symptom of GERD. GERD is the condition when the digestive acid keeps flowing into the esophagus causing it to burn. Acid reflux is the one way valve in the stomach relaxes allowing the acid to flow back into the esophagus. As you can see from the definitions, these are definitely related and are quite similar. However, GERD is a disease that keeps reoccurring.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a medical condition in which digestive acid in the stomach flows into the esophagus causing pain and discomfort. The diseases is caused by changes in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus, including relaxation of the  lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve type muscle that allows food only to travel one way. GERD is also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), gastric reflux disease, or acid reflux disease. These changes could be temporary or permanent depending on the condition of the stomach and the lining.

Mayo Clinic defines ‘GERD’ as, “a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back (refluxes) into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD signs and symptoms.” While, many people occasionally suffer from this due to certain foods and lifestyle, reoccurring of this condition causes GERD, serious medical condition. Signs and symptoms of GERD include heartburn and acid reflux.

Heartburn is common and can occur as frequently has once a week for some people. However, any more than one per week can point to a much serious disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is a chronic disease where acid constantly flow from the stomach to the lower esophagus, thus burning the esophagus. Long-term GERD can result in Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the color and composition of the esophagus change due to constant exposure to digestive acid. Barrett’s can in-turn cause esophageal cancer. Heartburn can also be caused by other conditions such as inflamed stomach lining, peptic ulcer or a hiatal hernia.

Acid reflux is a condition when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the one-way valve referred to above relaxes allowing the digestive acid in the stomach to flow backwards into the esophagus. Normally, the LES closes as soon as the food goes through it into the stomach and the pressure created by digestion helps seal the LES even further. However, under certain conditions, the LES does not always work in the way it should. When the LES relaxes, it allows the digestive acid to rise and go into the esophagus. This is what acid reflux is. It does not produce any burning sensations and most of the time the person would not even feel the acid flowing back up.

Acid reflux and heartburn are common conditions and can occur as frequently has once a week for some people. However, any more than one per week can point to a much serious disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD is a chronic disease where acid constantly flow from the stomach to the lower esophagus, thus burning the esophagus. Long-term GERD can result in Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the color and composition of the esophagus change due to constant exposure to digestive acid. Barrett’s can in-turn cause esophageal cancer. Heartburn can also be caused by other conditions such as inflamed stomach lining, peptic ulcer or a hiatal hernia.

Image Courtesy: sinus-pro.com, naturesnaturalhealing.com

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