Is There A Difference Between Acid Reflux And Indigestion
Quite often, the terms acid reflux and indigestion are used interchangeably without fully understanding the differences between the two.
There are in fact a number of differences between the two as indigestion is not, as many believe, just a milder form of acid reflux.
Rennie have taken the time to look into the two issues, and have put together this guide to allow you to understand the differences for yourself.
What Is Gerd Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux Vs Gerd
If you think of cases of heartburn at worsening levels, this is the best explanation of the differences between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD . While heartburn occurs occasionally, acid reflux is a condition that occurs more frequently and is more bothersome. It may not be easily treated with over-the-counter medications, and it comes with a set of additional symptoms than just a burning sensation in the chest. A patient that has acid reflux may also experience some of these symptoms in addition to burning:
- Sour taste in the mouth or bitterness in the back of the throat
- Burning and pressure along the breastbone
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
The reason the symptoms and severity differ from heartburn is that acid reflux is an entirely different condition. While heartburn is the result of esophageal irritation, acid reflux is the result of a breakdown of the LES muscle. After you eat, your LES is supposed to tighten and close, not letting any food pass back through. Food should remain in the stomach. However, if an LES is weak or not functioning correctly, it allows food to escape from the stomach back into the esophagus. This acidic, partially digested food and the symptoms it causes, as a result, is acid reflux.
Whats The Difference Between Heartburn Acid Reflux And Indigestion
Indigestion can be felt as discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, also known as dyspepsia. Its incredibly common with around 40% of adults experiencing it each year.
One of the main symptoms of indigestion is heartburn and acid reflux . Heartburn is felt as a burning sensation behind your breastbone or in your throat. It happens when acid from your stomach comes up your oesophagus and into your throat, which is called acid reflux. Most people only have occasional episodes, but when this keeps happening, its called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease .
Dyspepsia and heartburn may occur together or on their own and symptoms usually appear soon after eating or drinking.
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Treating Heartburn Vs Indigestion
Both heartburn and indigestion may be treated with over-the-counter products, such as:
- Antacids for mild, occasional heartburn symptoms. Antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid. They may be taken as soon as you experience symptoms, or before eating trigger foods to prevent them. Antacids arent meant to be taken every day, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Daily use can cause GI upset.
- Proton pump inhibitors for long-term treatment. PPIs work by decreasing the amount of acid in your stomach, allowing your esophagus to heal.
- Histamine-H2-receptor antagonists . These are also designed to decrease stomach acid, but they arent as strong as PPIs.
Ask your doctor before taking any herbal remedies for GI issues, as you may unintentionally make your heartburn or indigestion worse.
Occasional heartburn or indigestion is largely preventable. Prevention methods are the same for both conditions.
Here are some of the ways you can help decrease a flare-up of heartburn and indigestion symptoms:
These preventive measures may also help alleviate symptoms of chronic heartburn or indigestion, but youll need to see your doctor to help treat the underlying causes to help prevent further complications.
What Is Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a condition where ones stomach contents escape from the stomach itself and surge into the esophagus, causing discomfort and irritation. Oftentimes, acid reflux will cause one to experience heartburn, coughing, chest pains, or other symptoms. The chronic form of acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
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Is Gerd The Same As Reflux Esophagitis
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Also, what is GERD with esophagitis?
Reflux esophagitis is usually due to a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease . GERD occurs when stomach contents like acids, frequently back up into the esophagus. This causes chronic inflammation and irritation of the esophagus.
Subsequently, question is, are acid reflux and heartburn the same thing? Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus irritating the tissue. Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is a symptom of acid reflux, so named because the esophagus lies just behind the heart, and that is where the burning sensation is felt.
Thereof, can reflux esophagitis be cured?
Almost all cases of esophagitis can be cured. Some causes, such as acid reflux, may require long-term treatment.
What does GERD do to the esophagus?
When you have GERD your stomach acid persistently flows back up into your mouth through your esophagus. You may experience heartburn, acid indigestion, trouble swallowing, feeling of food caught in your throat and other problems. Stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus, causing reflux.
How To Relieve Heartburn And Indigestion
Both heartburn and indigestion treatment options neutralise stomach acid, reduce the production of stomach acid, or form a physical barrier to help prevent stomach acid from moving into the oesophagus.
Medications for heartburn and indigestion include
- Antacids that work by neutralising the acid produced by your stomach
- Alginates that form a raft to block acid from travelling back into the oesophagus
- H2-antagonists and proton-pump inhibitors that work to stop the production of acid in your stomach
Other ways you can help relieve or prevent heartburn and indigestion include:
- Avoiding or limiting food and drinks that can trigger symptoms
- Eating smaller meals
- Waiting 2 to 3 hours after eating or drinking before lying down
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What Is The Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn describes a feeling of burning, pain, or discomfort in the chest that can be quite uncomfortable. You also may a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth, and it usually occurs after you eat a big meal or when you lay down.
Not everyone with GERD will experience heartburn. Other symptoms of acid reflux include regurgitation of acid into the throat or mouth, a bitter taste in the mouth, upset stomach, belching, nausea after eating, feeling full, stomach and upper abdomen bloating, dry cough, wheezing, hoarseness, feeling of tightness in the throat, and in some people, vomiting.
Whats The Real Difference
Acid reflux is a regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus. It causes a sour taste in the back of your throat, coughing, and a burning pain in the chest especially when lying down.
GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Whereas acid reflux is a common condition, GERD is a chronic and more serious disease believed to be caused by frequent reflux. If left unchecked, it can result in serious injury to the lining of the esophagus or even cancer.
If you have acid reflux issues more than 2 times a week, you most likely have GERD.
GERD symptoms are similar to acid reflux but more serious.
- Regurgitating food
- Damage to tooth enamel from the excess acid exposure
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How Do I Know If I Have Acid Reflux
To determine whether you have acid reflux, watch out for common symptoms. Symptoms of acid reflux include:
- Pain in the middle of your chest
- A sour or bitter taste at the back of your throat
MedCline was founded in 2011 by Carl Melcher, M.D, who was a life-long sufferer of GERD. Dr. Melcher wanted to help the millions of GERD patients with a natural treatment alternative utilizing positional therapy. Since development, the Reflux Relief System has been validated in 7 clinical trials. Aiming to help other medical conditions with positional therapy, MedCline has also developed a Shoulder Relief System for those who suffer with chronic shoulder pain at night. Both MedCline Relief Systems are providing much-needed relief for those suffering from nocturnal acid reflux and/or nighttime shoulder pain to get quality, restorative sleep leading to a higher health-related quality of life.
To learn more about acid reflux relief, visit our Reflux Relief System Page.
To learn more about shoulder pain relief, visit our Shoulder Relief System Page.
Tests And Surgery For Heartburn And Acid Reflux
If medicines do not help or your symptoms are severe, a GP may refer you to a specialist for:
- tests to find out what’s causing your symptoms, such as a gastroscopy
- an operation on your stomach to stop acid reflux called a laparoscopic fundoplication
Page last reviewed: 09 September 2020 Next review due: 09 September 2023
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What Are The Other Treatment Options Or Home Remedies
If you having an acid reflux attack , the following remedies can give you relief:
1. Elevate your upper body using a wedge pillow
2. Try ginger tea or add grated or diced ginger to your food
3. If you are wearing tight clothing, change and wear loose clothes
4. Stand straight up if you were lying down or in a bending position
5. Sip apple cider vinegar
6. Take liquorice supplements
8. Take over-the-counter medications
That Burning Feeling: What Is Heartburn
After you swallow food, it makes its way down the esophagus and into the stomach, where a ring of muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter , closes to keep the food in. But sometimes the LES is weak or doesnt properly close, allowing stomach acid to backup, which irritates the lining of the esophagus. Thats acid reflux, or heartburn.
The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in the center of your chest that lasts from several minutes to an hour or two
- A feeling of chest pressure or pain that is worse if you bend over or lie down
- A sour, bitter, or acidic taste in the back of your throat
- A feeling that food is stuck in your throat or the middle of your chest
You can generally avoid occasional bouts of heartburn with some lifestyle modifications. Your doctor will likely suggest you try to treat heartburn by making the following lifestyle changes before medication comes into play.
- Avoid foods that trigger reflux for you. Spicy, acidic, and fried or fatty foods are more likely to trigger reflux. So can caffeine and alcohol.
- Stay upright after eating a big meal to allow for optimal digestion. Its best to not eat in the hours leading up to bedtime, says Dr. Hagan.
- If youre overweight or obese, losing some weight can help.
- If you smoke, do your best to quit.
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Symptoms Of Acid Reflux And Heartburn
If you have acid reflux, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms of heartburn, such as:
- A burning feeling behind your breastbone that occurs after you eat
- Chest pain
- Regurgitating food
- A feeling of a lump in your throat
Heartburn can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, and it usually goes away when your food is fully digested.
Over-the-counter and prescription heartburn medications can also prevent or lessen symptoms.
What Are The Signs I Need To See A Doctor
If youve tried to treat indigestion yourself with lifestyle adaptations or over-the-counter medications and are still experiencing symptoms, then it is best to see your doctor, says Dr McClymont.
Talk to a doctor or Livi GP if your indigestion persists, or you experience any of the following alongside it:
- Severe pain
- Sudden weight loss without meaning to
- Youre 55 or older
- Have difficulty swallowing
- Feel like you have a lump in your stomach
- Have blood vomit or poo
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What Causes Acid Reflux Disease
One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia. This occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest. Normally, the diaphragm helps keep acid in our stomach. But if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease.
These are other common risk factors for acid reflux disease:
- Eating large meals or lying down right after a meal
When To See A Gastroenterologist
Sometimes its difficult to know when your symptoms are severe enough that you need to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, and we understand that. Here are some indications that its time to call a gastroenterologist:
- Symptoms that continue for more than two weeks
- Heartburn that persists after taking over-the-counter medications
- Heartburn episodes that change in frequency or intensity
- Nighttime symptoms that affect your sleep quality
- Acid reflux that interferes with your daily activities or affects your quality of life
- Unexplained weight loss or decreased appetite
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Heartburn accompanied by nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic hoarseness or wheezing
If you experience any of the symptoms above, its time to see one of our gastroenterologists. After performing a complete medical exam, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you undergo an upper endoscopy to evaluate your symptoms and see if you have suffered any damage to your esophagus, or provide you with the peace of mind that everything is all right. During your visit, the doctor will examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum to determine the cause of your digestive symptoms and the appropriate treatment.
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How Can I Cure Gerd
Your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength antacids or proton pump inhibitor medications to help arrest the symptoms of GERD. However, just as with regular heartburn and with acid reflux, lifestyle changes help as well. If you suffer from GERD, dont eat two to three hours before bedtime, dont lie down immediately after you eat, and aim for four to five small meals a day instead of three larger ones. Quit smoking, avoid spicy foods and drink alcohol in moderation. Other foods to avoid include:
- Tomatoes and tomato products
Is Acid Reflux The Same As Heartburn
Acid reflux is a condition that many people around the world struggle with. The condition is characterized by incidents where your stomach contents surge upward into the esophagus. This can create a great deal of discomfort and lead to chest pain, coughing, nausea, and other issues. Most notably, heartburn is often linked with acid reflux. This begs the question: is acid reflux the same as heartburn?
While acid reflux and heartburn arent the same thing, they are closely related. In short, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. When stomach acid flows into the esophagus, this can cause a burning sensation in the middle of ones chest, below the sternum.
To learn more about what acid reflux and heartburn are, including how you can treat them, read this article from start to finish. Alternatively, you can use the links below to skip to any section of the article.
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Can Acid Reflux Disease Be Treated With Medications
In many cases, lifestyle changes combined with over-the-counter medications are all you need to control the symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, or Riopan, can neutralize the acid from your stomach. But they may cause diarrhea or constipation, especially if you overuse them. It’s best to use antacids that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide. When combined, they may help counteract these gastrointestinal side effects.
If antacids don’t help, your doctor may try other medications. Some require a prescription. Your doctor may suggest more than one type or suggest you try a combination of medications such as these:
- Foaming agents coat your stomach to prevent reflux.
- H2 blockers decrease acid production.
- Proton pump inhibitors also reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.
- Prokinetics can help strengthen the LES, empty your stomach faster, and reduce acid reflux.
Don’t combine more than one type of antacid or other medications without your doctor’s guidance.
When To See A Doctor About Heartburn Vs Indigestion
If your symptoms of heartburn and/or indigestion dont improve after a few weeks of home remedies and preventive measures, see your doctor.
Chronic heartburn or indigestion issues could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. To get to the root of chronic indigestion or heartburn issues, your doctor may order a few tests, including:
- a physical exam of your abdomen
- acid probe tests to measure when stomach acid reaches back into your esophagus
- imaging tests, such as X-rays and endoscopies , to look at your esophagus and stomach
- blood or stool tests to rule out bacterial infections that may be causing indigestion
- pain in your abdomen that doesnt go away
- frequent vomiting
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What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.
I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they dont seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually cant stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.
What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?
Try any or all of the following:
Will these changes stop the heartburn?
They may. If they dont, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids dont work?
If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.
What are acid blockers?