Often, there is confusion among patients between Acid reflux and GERD. This confusion arises from the fact that these two terms are closely related. But in medical terms, there exists a significant difference between them. 

GER or Gastroesophageal reflux is the medical name for acid reflux. In the case of acid reflux, the stomach acid in the food pipe flows back from the oesophagus. This can occur for various reasons, the most prominent being a heavy meal.

GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a severe form of Acid reflux. Unlike the normal acid reflux, whose occurrence is not very frequent, patients suffering from Gastroesophageal Disease (GERD) frequently experience the backward flow of stomach acid. It may even be daily.

GER or acid reflux is not dangerous, and lifestyle changes are often sufficient to reduce acid reflux. However, before we learn how to prevent acid reflux and cure GERD permanently, let us first understand the symptoms common to Instead, you GERD and GER.

Symptoms:

The prominent symptoms of Gastroesophageal Disease (GERD) and Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) are:

1- Heartburn, i.e., a burning sensation in the chest commonly occurring after food consumption and may worsen at night.

2- Pain in the chest.

3- Difficulty swallowing food.

4- Regurgitation of sour liquid or food in general

5- Sensation of a lump in the throat.

6- Chronic cough that lasts for days 

7- Worsening of old asthma.

8- Emergence of asthma in non-asthma patients.

9- Disruption in the sleep cycle.

10- Laryngitis.

Medication to reduce Acid Reflux:

The best way to reduce Acid reflux is by making lifestyle changes. However, sometimes, the heartburn and the pain caused due to the condition of GER or GERD medication can be prescribed to reduce the symptoms and provide relief. However, GERD lifestyle changes are recommended to keep acid reflux at bay.

Some of the medication that your medical professional will give you are:

-Histamine -2 (H2) Blockers for Acid reflux and Heartburn such as 

1- Cimetidine.

2- Famotidine.

3- Nizatidine.

The side effects of these medications may include Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, runny nose, headache, nausea and dizziness.

Proton Pump Inhibitors( PPIs) for Acid Reflux and heartburn include

1- Esomeprazole

2- Omeprazole.

3- Dexlansoprazole

4- Lansoprazole.

5-Rabeprazole.

6-Pantoprazole.

The provided medications are proven to be very effective in treating esophageal inflammation. However, some of the side effects caused are bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, gas, nausea, constipation and dizziness.

Promotility Agents For Acid Reflux and heartburn, such as Metoclopramide. However, even Metoclopramide has specific side effects. Some of them include fatigue, diarrhoea, drowsiness and other problems related to mobility.

How to cure GERD permanently? Is surgery the answer?

If the heartburn does not disappear even after medication and lifestyle changes, your doctor might recommend a possible surgery. This will only be recommended after the doctor has seen your test results, such as esophageal manometry and motility studies. Surgery will be recommended only as a last resort or if the doctor comes across any of these findings:

1- Narrowing of the oesophagus that is not a by-product of cancer.

2- Change in the cells caused as a result of Acid reflux, also called Barrett’s Esophagus.

3- The esophagus is severely inflamed. Right from the beginning of the tube, i.e., right from the mouth and goes all the way to the stomach.

GERD Lifestyle Changes:

Often, GER or Gastroesophageal reflux and GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux disease can be treated and prevented in the long run by making specific changes to your lifestyle. However, most of the time, GER and GERD are often caused by faulty food habits and irregular meal times. So to ease your symptoms and prevent acid reflux in the long term, we suggest that you make the following lifestyle changes and follow a routined GERD diet.

-You Must avoid going to bed at least three hours after your meal. This will help in proper digestion.

– Instead of having three large meals in a day, split it up and have several smaller meals throughout the day.

– Obesity is another causative factor. Get yourself moving so that you are physically fit and will be able to lose the excess weight.

If you are a chain smoker or a chain smoker, we recommend you quit smoking as this will help reduce symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn.

– Do not sleep on a low pillow. You should raise the height of the bed by a few inches. You can either get bed risers or have wooden blocks placed under the bedpost.

 Certain types of food also act as a trigger for acid reflux. You should avoid such food items. Some of the most common food triggers are:

    • fatty or fried foods
    • Chocolate and Dairy products.
    • Tomato sauce and Ketchup.
    • Fatty food
    • Onions
    • Alcohol and alcoholic beverages.
    • Coffee
    • spearmint
    • Garlic
    • Carbonated drinks, such as soda and coke
    • Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemon.
    • Peppermint
    • Spicy food.

These Lifestyle changes will help you in relieving your symptoms. More you should raise over, follow a GERD diet that is gentle on the palate but at the same time instead, and you do not deprive yourself of all the essential macronutrients and micronutrients required by the body for its proper functioning.

If you know someone in your family has the same symptoms as GRED, consult Dr Nivedita.       

Dr Nivedita Pandey is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist based in New Delhi.