How Do Acid Reflux and GERD Differ?


People commonly hear or see the expressions “GERD” and “acid reflux” and mistake them for the same condition. On the surface, GERD and acid reflux seem to have the same main symptom — indigestion (commonly referred to as heartburn). There is a great deal more to it than that, however. What are the differences between GERD and acid reflux?

The GI doctors at GI Alliance of Illinois are here to help you understand the differences so you can better understand your gastrointestinal and overall health. Our Chicago, IL area digestive health specialists want you to be confident enough to make sound decisions regarding your health.

What brings about acid reflux?

When you swallow, your food will migrate from your esophagus into your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter, known as the LES. In some cases, the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close fully and can allow the acid to go back into the esophagus. This process leads to the feeling of “heartburn” that many men and women will experience.

There may be several reasons the lower esophageal sphincter can’t close all the way. This is typically the result of a loss of strength in a person’s LES. Some reasons for this involve:

  • Too much caffeine
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Specific medications
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • High-fat or low-fiber diets
  • A diet that includes spicy foods

GERD vs. acid reflux

If you experience heartburn 2 – 3 times a week or if acid reflux medications don’t help these symptoms, you could have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

Our GI Alliance of Illinois providers will help you understand your symptoms and establish if you are experiencing GERD or another condition. It may take a little bit of experimentation to discover a treatment that helps alleviate GERD or acid reflux symptoms; however, our team of providers is available to help you throughout this journey.

How is GERD treated?

When you seek treatment for GERD in Peoria, Arlington Heights, and surrounding IL areas, there are various treatment methods we can try. First, we will look at your medications and health history to determine if we can adjust any medications. Some other changes we might recommend are:

  • Sleep with your head raised
  • Reduce how much caffeine you drink
  • Eat more slowly
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Adjust your diet, including high-fiber foods and steering clear of citrus or high-fat and spicy foods
  • Remain upright after you eat
  • Don’t eat three hours before going to bed

If you don’t get acid reflux relief after attempting these suggestions, we have more treatment options you may want to consider. Some of your treatment options could include prescribed antacids or, as a last resort, a surgical procedure.

Get relief from GERD and acid reflux symptoms in Chicago, IL

Our GI specialists at GI Alliance of Illinois are available to diagnose and treat several gastrointestinal ailments, like acid reflux. If you’re experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease or want an effective way to treat your condition, there are several options available to you. For more information on how we can work with you to find relief from your acid reflux, contact one of our locations in Peoria, Arlington Heights, Chicago, or a surrounding area today.

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