Heartburn, Acid Reflux, Or GERD: What’s The Difference

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, Or GERD: What’s The Difference
25 Nov 2023
9 mins
Table Of Content
Heartburn, Acid Reflux, Or GERD: What’s The Difference

    "Heartburn whispers, acid reflux murmurs, while GERD speaks of persistent struggles."


    Have you ever felt confused about how to judge whether you have a heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD? No wonder everyone is confused because of their similarities. But indeed, it isn't the same problem. Today, we are going to break the confusion through this blog and expand our knowledge about a thorough understanding of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD.

    Essential Of Knowing The Difference


    GERD is the most common chronic condition of the gastrointestinal tract, which affects over a billion people all over the world, and it is estimated to affect up to 20% of the population worldwide. This is because people are often unable to differentiate the symptoms and are unaware of identifying the GERD from acid reflux or heartburn. It is important to understand the difference between them to reduce the mortality rate. This can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment options, which can be achieved by a proper understanding of GERD. This blog helps us give a clear-cut answer to most of your confusion about GERD, heartburn, and acid reflux. Continue to read for more information.

    Heartburn Explained: Unveiling the Sensation


    Heartburn refers to an irritation of the esophagus (food pipe), which is caused due to acid reflux in the stomach. You may feel a burning sensation in your chest after eating or drinking a beverage. Heartburn is very common during pregnancy due to physical and hormonal changes in the body. Even though the symptoms of heartburn are undesirable, they won't be that harmful when compared to other GI disorders. However, it is important to note, if it is more frequent, which may also indicate GERD.


    Common symptoms


    • Burning sensation in the chest
    • Increase of pain when lying down or bending over
    • Bitter taste in the mouth


    Prevention options


    1. Eat a healthy diet
    2. Avoid eating spicy foods
    3. Avoid drinking alcohol
    4. Avoid eating foods 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
    5. Wearing comfortable clothes when you have heartburn
    6. Quit or limit the habit of smoking
    7. Do regular physical exercise




    Medicines like antacids and alginate (maharaft Suspension 150ml), H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) help to neutralize the stomach acids and relieve heartburns. However, it is advised to consult your doctor before using any medicines.

    Understanding Acid Reflux: Exploring the Basics


    Acid reflux is the backflow of acid from the stomach into the food pipes, which leads to undesirable symptoms. Heartburn is caused due to acid reflux; people with a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES) often face these issues. 


    Common symptoms


    • Feeling sick
    • Feeling uncomfortable
    • Bitter or sour taste in the mouth (backflow of stomach acid in the back of your mouth)




    1. Eating small meals more frequently
    2. Avoid drinking alcohol or beverages
    3. Drink more water
    4. Avoid eating midnight snacks
    5. Quit or limit your smoking habits (nicotine may relax the lower esophageal sphincter)
    6. Avoid eating spicy food or foods that trigger stomach acids




    Acid reflux can be treated with antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Your doctor will prescribe you an appropriate medicine based on your health condition. Always remember that untreated acid reflux may cause a GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which is an advanced stage of acid reflux.

    Understanding GERD: A Deeper Dive


    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that affects your digestive system. People who experience heartburn several times (twice a week) may have the risk of getting GERD. It is a more serious and long-lasting condition of acid reflux. People are often unaware of the symptoms and refuse to get proper treatment by imagining it as a heartburn or acid reflux. 


    7 Common Symptoms of GERD


    1. Pain in the middle chest
    2. Nausea
    3. Pain during swallowing
    4. Chronic/persistent cough
    5. Loss of appetite
    6. Persistent vomiting
    7. Bleeding in the GI (blood vomiting or stool)


    Always remember that the signs and symptoms may vary based on the stage and severity of the GERD. So, it is recommended to take some proactive steps and speak about the signs and symptoms with your doctor. A hiatal hernia (stomach extending through an opening of the diaphragm) can also increase the chance of getting GERD or worsening GERD symptoms.




    • Eat a healthy diet that comprises non-citrus fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and ginger.
    • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
    • Stay up after a big dinner (lack of activities after a meal may lead to acid reflux).
    • Get a proper treatment for hiatal hernia (increases the risk of GERD).
    • Do regular physical exercise.




    Based on your GERD stage, your doctor will prescribe you the appropriate medicine; proton pump inhibitors (e.g., pantoprazole) or histamine 2 receptor blockers (e.g., ranitidine) are effective in treating GERD.

    5 Similarity Shared Among Heartburn, Acid Reflux, Or Gerd


    1. Patients often or rarely feel pain in the chest or the middle of the chest.
    2. You may feel a burning sensation in the breastbone, neck, and throat.
    3. You may have a feeling of nausea or vomiting.
    4. You may experience a bitter taste in the mouth.
    5. You may experience digestion-related problems (indigestion).

    5 Difference between Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux Vs GERD


    TitleHeartburnAcid RefluxGERD
    PrevalenceHeartburn are common in people with poor eating habits Acid Reflux is common in patients with weak lower esophageal sphincter.GERD is common only in people with severe reflux problems.
    SeverityNot a serious conditionNot a serious condition unless it is frequentSerious condition
    MedicationMedication: antacids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors Medication: antacids, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors Medication: Medication may vary based on the stage of GERD (anti-secretory medications)
    Risk of cancerNo risk of cancerNo risk of getting cancer if properly treated (unless change to GERD)Risk of developing esophageal cancer

    End Notes


    Even though the above-discussed conditions share similarities in symptoms, it is mandatory to know about the differences to avoid esophageal cancer (end stage of GERD). Everyone should wake up and protect our loved ones with a proper understanding about each and every step of the enemy (GERD) before it turns into an incurable condition. Prevention is better than cure, and for that, we need a proper understanding of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. Let's fight against GERD and understand each and every symptom, which acts as a proactive step to avoid it.


     "Common heartburn, often known, Chronic hints, a signal shown”.

    Written by
    Dr Archana GuptaMedical content writer
    AboutDr. Archana is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. She graduated with a Bachelor of Dentistry (BDS) from Surendera Dental College, Ganganangar, Rajasthan in 2019. She participated in various aspects of clinical services, and research projects and has written various blogs and articles. She is proficient in researching, writing, editing, and proofreading of medical content and blogs.
    Tags :HeartburnAcid refluxGastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)Difference and its symptoms