Have you ever felt a burning sensation in your chest and think that it might be heartburn? Are you wondering if it is also called acid reflux? Easily confused, acid reflux and heartburn are actually two different conditions that can go hand-in-hand.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid (or bile) moves up and leaks into the esophagus. It’s typically caused by eating too fast, too much, or lying down right after eating. If you’re obese or pregnant, you are more at risk of acid reflux. Acid reflux can also be triggered by certain foods such as citrus, fried food, garlic, carbonation, alcohol or spicy food. It often causes chest pain or a burning sensation — and that is referred to as heartburn.
Heartburn is the sensation that occurs when stomach acid reaches the esophagus, while acid reflux is the action. The symptoms of heartburn may include the feeling of pain, discomfort or tightness in your chest or upper abdomen. Having occasional heartburn is normal, but if you’re experiencing it frequently, it might be a sign of a bigger problem.
Acid Reflux Disease
If you have consistent heartburn, you may have acid reflux disease, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This means that your lower esophageal sphincter and upper stomach move above your diaphragm. In this case, acid can easily leaks from the stomach up to the esophagus. Some of the causes for acid reflux disease include being overweight, snacking close to bedtime, smoking, pregnancy or taking aspirin or ibuprofen. Patients may also experience bloody or black stools, regurgitation, nausea, weight loss, coughing, sore throat or hiccups. Acid reflux disease can cause more serious issues and should be discussed with your physician.
Any of our board certified gastroenterologists, Dr. Carl Calandra or Suman Kaur, can determine if you are suffering from acid reflux disease. He or she may prescribe lifestyle changes in addition to acid-blocking medications. In severe cases, surgery on the lower esophageal sphincter may be required.
Call Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale at (630) 325-4255 to schedule a consultation to discuss your possible acid reflux disease or GERD. Visit www.ddahinsdale.com to learn more.
Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or one of the Digestive Disease Associate physicians with any questions or concerns.