Indigestion, Acid reflux and GERD are considered as comparative conditions and these words are commonly utilized synonymously. In any case, this isn’t the circumstance. Indigestion isn’t a condition rather it is the indications which might be because of heartburn and GERD. Indigestion is a moderate and intense condition which can be overseen by way of life changes while GERD is a serious, dynamic and complex condition which expected meds to get managed.
Acid is present in the stomach. It helps in the digestion of food as certain enzymes get activated in the presence of acid. It also helps in killing the pathogens that get into the digestive tract through food. The stomach is protected for acid by the mucous membrane which forms a layer on the inner wall of the stomach. However, such protective covering is not present on the esophagus. When, due to any reason, if the acid gets in contact with the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation on the esophagus. This results in the condition called heartburn. It is to be noticed that acid reflux has nothing to do with the heart. As the burning sensation is felt in the esophagus, which is located in the area similar to heart, the condition is commonly known as heartburn.
Heartburn is actually a symptom, which can be due to another disease. But when this symptom occurs, it brings with a variety of other symptoms along with patient discomfort. The other symptoms associated with heartburn include chest congestion, chest pain, sour taste at the back of the throat and burning sensation in the throat.
The prevention of heartburn is required as chronic heartburn may lead to other chronic diseases such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal cancer.
There are various methods adopted for managing the heartburn. These are:
- Reduced intake of carbonated water.
- Limited intake of spicy food
- Avoid smoking
- Maintaining obesity
- Symptomatic relief through antacids
Acid reflux is the condition characterized by the backward movement of acid from the stomach to the esophagus. At the preliminary stage, acid reflux may or may not lead to heartburn, but generally, acid reflux is characterized by heartburn along with other symptoms.
There is a circular muscle present at the junction of esophagus and stomach. This muscle is known as a lower esophageal sphincter. The function of this muscle is to prevent the backward flow of food and other ingredients from the stomach to the esophagus. The sphincter muscle, due to any reason, when unable to adequately perform its function, there is a backward movement of acid leading to acid reflux.
The symptoms of acid reflux are:
- Difficulty breathing or chest congestion
- Swallowing problems
- Pain while swallowing
- Sour taste at the back of the throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bad breath
The lower esophageal sphincter muscle becomes compromised in the patients who are obese, pregnant or overweight. Due to this, the incidence of acid reflux is high in such patients.
Following are the causes of acid reflux:
- Eating too much spicy food
- Uncontrolled consumption of alcohol
- Too heavy meal in one go
- Consuming highly acidic drinks and carbonated water
- Directly going to bed after taking dinner
- Fried foods and food containing high quantity of fat
- Medications such as asthma medications, antihistamines, antidepressants and antihypertensives
Acid reflux is a cute condition in its mild to moderate form and can be managed through the following measures:
- Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
- Eat in small meals.
- Take a walk after eating dinner.
- Avoid fried, spicy and fatty food.
GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a chronic disease characterized by the presence of acid reflux. Acid reflux is also known as gastroesophageal reflux. Following are the symptoms of GERD:
- Chronic heartburn
- Swallowing difficulty
- Chest pain
- Sour taste in mouth and at the back of the throat
- Chest congestion and difficulty breathing
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
The symptoms of GERD are more pronounced during the night when the person lie down. Sometimes, severe cases of GERD results in the injury of the esophagus. These conditions are reflux esophagitis wherein there is an inflammation of the esophageal tissue near the stomach and esophageal juncture, esophageal strictures which is the progressive narrowing of the esophagus due to constant inflammation, Barrett’s esophagus in which there is a change in the type of esophageal epithelial cells and esophageal cancer.
GERD is a chronic disease with high severity in many cases. Various factors increase the risk of the development of this disease. These are:
- Zollinger Ellison syndrome
- High level of calcium in the blood
- Hiatal Hernia
- Obesity or overweight
- Glenard syndrome
Difference between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD
Heartburn, heartburn, and GERD are once in a while utilized synonymously and numerous individuals believe that these are comparative conditions. In any case, this isn’t the situation. Each of the three conditions has distinctive implications and the treatment procedure embraced is likewise unique for indigestion and GERD.
Heartburn isn’t a sickness, rather it is an indication which happens when the corrosive chafes the mass of the throat. As the esophageal divider can’t withstand the acidic assault, there is a consuming sensation in the chest territory. This condition is known as indigestion. Indigestion is a typical side effect in both heartburn and GERD.
Acid reflux is the condition which is described by the disappointment of the lower esophageal sphincter muscles at the point of the throat and stomach. Indigestion malady has gentle to direct manifestations, for example, mellow acid reflux, sharp preference for the mouth, terrible breath, and mellow torment while gulping. Heartburn can be overseen by rolling out specific improvements in the way of life, for example, abstaining from smoking, and constrained utilization of broiled and fiery foods.
GERD can be considered as a serious type of indigestion. It is created when intense heartburn is permitted to advance. GERD is an interminable condition, and this may prompt genuine complexities, for example, Barrett’s throat or malignant growth. Further, in contrast to indigestion, GERD can’t be overseen by just making changes in the way of life and certain meds are required to diminish the side effects. The indications of GERD are more serious than heartburn and because of steady aggravation, the patient feels extreme torment while gulping.