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Difference Between GERD and Heartburn

GERD vs Heartburn

GERD or clinically known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a condition in which there is an abnormal reflux or regurgitation of the stomach contents back to the esophagus due to a weakened or impaired mechanism involving the anatomical structures which connect the esophagus and stomach.

On the other hand, heart burn, or clinically known as pyrosis, is a term used for individuals who are experiencing discomfort which is a burning-like pain. It is usually felt behind the breast bone. The pain may be also felt flowing from the abdomen up to the throat. It is not a disease but rather a symptom.

GERD and heart burn may possess the same symptoms. However, it is nice to know that heart burn is of unknown causes while GERD has an underlying pathological explanation. Heart burn can also be a symptom of GERD together with dysphagia or difficulty of swallowing. Other GERD patients report vomiting, pain during swallowing (odynophagia), and nausea. Heart burn, on the other hand, is often a symptom related to angina (chest pain) or myocardial infarction (heart attack). Heart burn can also be related to other gastrointestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.

GERD can be diagnosed through various diagnostic tests such as a barium swallow x-ray, EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) and last, but not least, esophageal pH monitoring, the gold standard for diagnosing GERD. On the other hand, there are no definitive tests for heart burn, but assessment is used by nurses and physicians to rule out the possibity of GERD. Usually, heart burn occurs after eating. This can be triggered by eating foods which are spicy. It can also be triggered by eating foods rich in fat and acid.

GERD and heart burn in this technologically advanced era can be prevented or treated. Though prevention is still better than the cure, one must consult a doctor if these symptoms are being experienced.



GERD occurs because there is a problem with the anatomical structures between the esophagus and stomach while heart burn occurs which can be due to GERD, heart disease, or by eating spicy, fatty, and acidic foods and drinks.

GERD is a disease while heart burn is a symptom of another disease which can be GERD or ischemic heart disease.

There is a definitive way to diagnose GERD. However, regarding heart burn, the assessment of choice is to rule out GERD and other heart diseases which are a symptom of it.

In GERD, regurgitation of stomach contents causing dysphagia and odynophagia can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. For heart burn, the pain is only concentrated in the breast bone which can also radiate to the jaw, but nausea and vomiting do not usually occur.

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