Heartburn is never a pleasant condition, but it’s something millions of Americans deal with on a daily basis. Many people think it’s just their body’s reaction to food they ate, but there may be more to the story. Today, we’re going to explain the difference between heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and how to treat both conditions.
Heartburn Vs. GERD
Heartburn and GERD are two very similar conditions, although it’s worth noting that you can experience heartburn without GERD, and you can develop GERD without traditional heartburn symptoms. Although heartburn is a condition in and of itself, the main difference between the two is that heartburn is a symptom of GERD, while GERD is a medical condition with a more defined cause.
For example, a person can experience heartburn for a number of reasons without necessarily having GERD. Heartburn occurs when stomach acid makes it’s way back through the esophageal sphincter and agitates the tissue in esophagus. This can occur because you ate a large meal, pushing the stomach acid upwards towards the opening or because you shifted positions and acid made it through the opening as food was passing through in the opposite direction. If it happens once in a blue moon and you can account for why it may have occurred, controlling heartburn takes little more than eating smaller portions and remaining upright throughout the meal and for a short time afterwards.
However, if you are experiencing frequent bouts of heartburn, you may actually be suffering from GERD or acid reflux. GERD occurs when the esophageal sphincter fails to close properly or becomes loose, meaning it’s much easier for stomach acid to retreat back up the esophageal canal. Regular feelings of heartburn are a sign of GERD, which left untreated can lead to serious medical problems.
Conservative treatment of GERD is similar to that of heartburn, but if you’re truly dealing with GERD, odds are your surgeon will want to take care of the issue to prevent more serious complications from the condition, like esophageal cancer. In order to take care of the problem, your surgeon may recommend a procedure called a fundoplication.
During this procedure the surgeon uses a minimally invasive technique to access your esophageal canal. Once inside, the surgeon maneuvers the upper portion of the stomach around the lower end of the esophagus. Not only does this technique reinforce the closing mechanism of the esophageal sphincter, but the upper lining of stomach helps protect the more vulnerable tissues in the lower esophageal canal.
So if you’re dealing with regular instances of heartburn, make it a point to set up a consultation with a heartburn doctor. Dr. Koeplin has helped treat heartburn and GERD in hundreds of patients, and he knows he can do the same for you and protect you against more adverse conditions. Click here to set up a consultation with him.