Heartburn, Reflux, & GORD: Are They All the Same?
If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably read this blog’s title and assumed that the answer is “yes.” In fact, some people don’t know that GORD is a condition that falls into the category of reflux disorders. The majority of us are led to believe that acid reflux and heartburn are just normal parts of life – a result of overeating that can be simply avoided. However, this isn’t the case; many patients suffer from these symptoms on a daily basis. Furthermore, ignoring the symptoms of a reflux disorder can lead to very serious conditions like Oesophageal Cancer.
Let’s take a look at the differences between these three terms (GORD, heartburn, and acid reflux) and how you can get a diagnosis and treatment plan from a reflux specialist right in Tampa Bay.
GORD, Heartburn, and Acid Reflux
What Is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GORD, is a condition in which the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) is weakened or has moved to the point of allowing abnormal, excessive amounts of the stomach’s contents to back up into or “reflux” into the oesophagus. GORD can be the result of an LOS that does not relax appropriately; in the sphincter’s relaxed stage, it should completely close, making it impossible for reflux to happen. Many things can cause GORD, and there’s only a handful of treatments that can resolve this condition for good: reflux surgeries.
Heartburn vs. GORD
Many people ask, what is heartburn? Technically speaking, heartburn is a symptom, or a feeling – in and of itself. Heartburn is often characterized by a burning sensation in the chest, often in the area surrounding one’s heart. Recurrent heartburn suggests that a patient may have a condition, but we are unable to diagnose GORD (for which heartburn is a symptom) on the basis of heartburn alone.
Heartburn vs. Reflux
How is heartburn different from reflux? Both heartburn and acid reflux are symptoms, but acid reflux is slightly different. The difference between heartburn and reflux is the sensations associated with the symptom: acid reflux is the physical process of stomach contents backing up into the oesophagus. Depending on the chemical makeup of your stomach contents at the time of reflux, there may or may not be pain. For example, a “burp” is technically reflux; air is being let into the oesophagus, and this is completely normal. So, reflux itself is not necessarily a negative symptom.
How Do I Get a Diagnosis in Tampa Bay?
Schedule an appointment with a reflux specialist as soon as you are able. The longer you let your symptoms go unchecked, the more likely you are to develop complications from acid and enzymes entering a place they are not supposed to be. Your doctor will likely perform tests like a barium swallow, pH monitoring, or an endoscopy. You and your doctor will review your symptoms to decide which test or tests will be necessary.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your reflux doctor may recommend that you try making some lifestyle changes first. If you and your doctor rule out lifestyle changes as a treatment option, you may be given some short-term medication – it’s not recommended that a patient stays on medications like these – while you await surgery.
This article is from Tampa Bay Reflux Centre – https://www.tampabayrefluxcenter.com/acid-reflux-gerd-blog/2022/2/18/heartburn-reflux-amp-gerd-are-they-all-the-same