If I Have Heartburn, Do I Have GERD?

Signs of GERD or Signs of Heartburn?

A frequent question that people have is, "How is GERD different from heartburn?" Similar to GERD, heartburn occurs when stomach acid refluxes back into the esophagus. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat. This burning sensation is known as heartburn. Heartburn can occur as a result of a number of conditions (diabetes, scleroderma, Raynaud's phenomenon), medications, or lifestyle choices (see Causes of Heartburn).
 
On the other hand, GERD is a condition. Signs of GERD also occur when stomach acid refluxes. However, with GERD, the acid has refluxed for long enough to cause damage to the esophagus. This causes GERD symptoms that are usually more severe than heartburn. These symptoms also occur more frequently and for longer periods of time.
 
Occasional heartburn is common, but doesn't necessarily mean a person has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week or that affects a person's life may be considered GERD.
 

Final Thoughts

Heartburn is the most common sign of GERD, but not everyone with heartburn has GERD. For people who only get occasional heartburn, over-the-counter medications often relieve the discomfort. However, if you experience heartburn two or more times a week, or if over-the-counter antacids work only temporarily or not at all, you may have GERD.
 
If you think you have it, talk to your healthcare provider. Treatment options are available. For most people, they are quite successful in relieving symptoms of GERD.
 

Information About GERD

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