Are Acid Reflux and GERD the Same?


Most adults hear the terms “GERD” and “acid reflux” and wonder if there is a difference between them or if they are identical. Often, people assume these are generally the same — heartburn. There is a great deal more to it than that, however. What, then, are the differences between these conditions?

The GI providers at Gastroenterology Associates of Florida are available to help you understand the ins and outs of different gastro conditions so you can focus on your GI and overall health. Our Palm Beach County digestive health specialists want you to understand enough about your GI health to make decisions that benefit you.

What is the cause of acid reflux?

When you swallow, your food or drink will pass from your esophagus to your stomach through the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). Sometimes, the LES doesn’t fully close and can allow the acid formed during this step to make its way back up into the esophagus. This acid causes the familiar feeling of “heartburn” many people suffer.

There may be a number of reasons the lower esophageal sphincter cannot close completely. This is typically due to weakness in an individual’s LES. Some causes of this include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Eating a lot of spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • A high-fat, low-fiber diet
  • Certain medications
  • Caffeine use

Acid reflux vs. GERD

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

Our Gastroenterology Associates of Florida gastroenterologists are here to help you understand your symptoms and discern if you are suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease or something else. It could take some trial and error to find the right method of treatment that helps alleviate your acid reflux symptoms; however, our team is ready to assist you throughout this journey.

How will my GERD be treated?

If you’re searching for treatment for GERD in or around Palm Beach County, FL, there are several methods of treatment we may want to try. First, we will review your current medications and general health to establish if we can adjust any of your daily medications. Some other solutions we could suggest are:

  • Remain sitting up following your meals
  • Don’t eat three hours before bedtime
  • Adjust your diet to include foods high in fiber and avoid foods such as citrus, high fat, or spice
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Sleep elevated
  • Eat slowly
  • Drink less caffeine

If you don’t find relief after trying one or more of these methods, there are more treatment strategies you may want to consider. These include prescribed antacids or (often as a last result) a surgical procedure.

Get relief from GERD and acid reflux symptoms in Palm Beach County

Our team of gastroenterologists at Gastroenterology Associates of Florida is skilled in diagnosing and treating several different GI issues, such as moderate-to-severe acid reflux. You have several options if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or are looking for a favorable way to treat your GERD. To learn more about how we can work with you to find relief from your chronic heartburn, reach out to one of our locations in or around Palm Beach County, FL today.

Find Your Nearest Location