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Get the 411 on pharmacy news
+ health & wellness tips

Written by Natasha Ness
On July 12, 2021

Acid Reflux, Heartburn, or GERD?

Ever have that burning feeling in your chest or belly? Believe us, everyone has been there. Odds are at some point in your life, you’ve had your own battle with acid reflux, are currently struggling with symptoms, or likely will in the future.

Acid reflux occurs when the left esophageal sphincter (LES) becomes weak. The cause of acid reflux is when acid from your stomach can move backward into your esophagus.

Acid reflux can creep up on you in many forms, and with many symptoms. Some encounter a sour feeling in their stomach, while others may feel radiating burning in the chest. Some may even develop these symptoms in a more severe capacity, known as GERD.

In fact, acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD are all interconnected. So what’s the difference between milder acid reflux and heartburn versus something more severe such as GERD?

Statistic courtesy of WebMD. 1

Heartburn, GERD, Acid Reflux: What’s the difference?

Data courtesy of Healthline. 2

Acid Reflux is the Culprit

  • Is it possible to have heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD? In a way, yes.Heartburn is only a symptom of acid reflux. When acid reflux is left untreated and becomes chronic, it can lead to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as chronic acid reflux). This means that treating the root cause — acid reflux — can relieve and even heal your symptoms.

Tips for Healing

The good news is that acid reflux can be treated in a variety of ways:

Dietary changes

  • Eat frequent smaller meals
  • Avoid the trigger foods that keep giving you heartburn, such as spicy, fried, fatty foods, as well as foods high in acidity, garlic, and alcohol. 3

Sleep adjustments

  • Elevate the head of your bed. When lying down, gravity no longer helps keep stomach acid down, making it easier for reflux to occur.


Prescription Options:

  • H-2-receptor blockers such as prescription-strength Cimetidine and Famotidine (Pepcid) can reduce acid for longer, but it can take a while to build up in your system. This is often a medication used for fighting GERD as well.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Omeprazole (Prilosec) on the other hand can reduce gastic acid production, and slow fats from breaking down, which helps calcium absorbtion. These medications are often stronger at blocking acid than H-2 receptor blockers and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal.
  • In more severe cases, Baclofen may ease GERD by decreasing the frequency of relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter.5

Over-the-counter Relief:

  • Antacids like Mylanta, Rolaids, and TUMs neutralize stomach acid and are very common drug store products that give many relief.
  • For milder symptoms, many H-2-receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors — such as Tagamet, Pepcid, Prilosec, and Zegerid — also come in over the counter options at a weaker strength.

As always, if these treatments don’t work and you would like to explore other ideas, you should talk to your doctor.

Acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD can take the enjoyment out of a great meal, or a good night’s sleep, but it doesn’t have to. Don’t leave your symptoms untreated. Get started on treating your symptoms today and as always, GeniusRx can help with your treatment options.

Sources: (1) WebMD, (2) Healthline, (3) Cleveland Clinic, (4) Sleep Foundation, & (5) Mayo Clinic

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