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Acid Reflux vs. GERD: What Are the Differences?

You’ve always loved pizza and lasagna, but heartburn after dinner has become almost constant. It’s time to call the doctor. 

Heartburn comes in various forms. You may feel a burning sensation in your chest that moves up to your throat, or you may experience severe pain around your breastbone that feels like a bubble inside. You’re rushing for antacids almost every night to relieve the discomfort. 

The term “heartburn” is really a misnomer, because the pain isn’t really situated in your heart, but in your esophagus, the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. You have a digestive problem. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

Our board-certified bariatric surgeons at Turnquest Surgical Solutions routinely treat acid reflux and GERD, which is a more complex issue. Both conditions contain the word “reflux,” so what’s the difference? 

Acid reflux

Your body is a complex machine. If one part isn’t working properly, it affects others. You have a muscle that connects your esophagus to your stomach. The muscle’s job is to constrict your esophagus after food enters your stomach. If the muscle doesn’t tighten up as it should, stomach acid can flow backward into the esophagus, creating acid reflux.  

Reflux causes other symptoms besides heartburn. You may experience an unpleasant taste at the back of your mouth from the acid, or you may have a cough or even a sore throat. 


GERD is the chronic condition that results from acid reflux. If you have acid reflux more than two times a week, you’re diagnosed with GERD. Your esophagus becomes inflamed from the stomach acid moving backward into it so frequently. Your over-the-counter antacids probably no longer work to relieve your discomfort.  

In addition to heartburn and the other symptoms associated with acid reflux, you may also experience bad breath, damage to your tooth enamel from the stomach acid, or even have trouble swallowing. 

GERD is dangerous because continued damage to your esophagus can result in esophageal cancer. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent acid reflux and GERD. 

Solutions to acid reflux and GERD 

At Turnquest Surgical Solutions, we review your medical history, conduct tests, and determine whether acid reflux or GERD is causing your symptoms. We work with you by recommending a lifestyle modification plan to control your discomfort. 

If lifestyle modifications don’t help, there are surgical solutions. You may have developed a hiatal hernia from excess belly fat pressing on your stomach. We can repair the hernia. If you’re obese and want surgery to limit your food intake, bariatric surgery may be an option that can help control your symptoms. 

Call or book an appointment online at one of our Houston, Texas, offices. At Turnquest Surgical Solutions, we provide relief from your reflux symptoms and are ready to address all of your bariatric and general surgery needs.

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