While GERD and Acid Reflux disease are very similar, they are not the same thing. Some people do confuse the two terms but there are differences. Acid Reflux is basically the same thing as Heartburn. It occurs when there is back flow of stomach acid into the food pipe (esophagus). The esophagus is the pipe that connects the stomach and the throat. Commonly, acid reflux is referred to as gastroesophageal reflux in the medical profession. If you are experiencing acid reflux there is a chance you will taste a sour flavor as a result of regurgitated food and acid that travel up the esophagus.
This condition is very serious if left untreated and can eventually lead to GERD which is essentially a much more severe form of acid reflux. The most typical symptoms of GERD are heartburn which occurs more often than not. In addition you can develop a bad cough, vomiting, nausea, chest pain and a number of other undesirable conditions. GERD can become so serious that it can actually cause holes and ulcers to form in the stomach lining, esophagus and throat. In some cases GERD will require a surgical procedure in order to repair damage that has occurred inside the digestive system.
If acid reflux is treated properly and controlled efficiently, there is a very good chance that GERD may never become an issue. However, acid reflux that is left untreated and unattended can easily turn into a much worse problem. If your doctor has given you specific instructions on controlling your heartburn, the best advice is to follow his/her suggestions. Many people who have habits such as drinking or smoking are prime candidates for GERD. This is because these are two of the hardest habits to break and also, unfortunately, two of the most common contributing factors to acid reflux and GERD.
The most common times to experience the worst symptoms of GERD or Acid Reflux for that matter is at night when you are laying in your bed. This is why most doctors will suggest eating a good two or three hours before going to bed. This means going to bed on an empty stomach is the best way to avoid heartburn or other discomfort at night.
If you have questions about your acid reflux and want to know how to avoid it turning to GERD, speak with your doctor and follow his/her advice on treatment. In most cases treatment with medications to control acid will be quite effective.