What Is The Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux and heartburn are two common conditions that many people often confuse. While they are related, they are not the same thing. In this article, we will explore the key differences between acid reflux and heartburn, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. By understanding the distinction between the two, you can better understand your own symptoms and seek the appropriate treatment.
Whether you are dealing with occasional heartburn or a more chronic condition like acid reflux, it is important to be informed about these conditions and how to manage them. First, let’s understand what they are.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that is caused by stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It is often worse after eating or lying down. This can happen due to a dysfunction in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the point connecting the esophagus, and stomach.
When the LES does not work properly, stomach acid can escape into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. Symptoms of heartburn may include a burning sensation in the chest, a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, and difficulty swallowing.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), is a condition in which stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This can cause symptoms such as heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest, and a sour or bitter taste in the mouth. Other symptoms of acid reflux can include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and a persistent cough.
A more severe form of acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When acid reflux becomes a persistent concern, GERD is diagnosed.
The hydrochloric acid in the stomach aids in the breakdown of food and serves as a defense against pathogens like bacteria. While the esophagus is not covered, the stomach's lining is covered by a layer of mucus that protects it from the powerful acid.
When the gastroesophageal sphincter malfunctions, stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. This causes acid reflux.
Additionally, certain lifestyle factors, such as being overweight or smoking, can increase the risk of developing acid reflux.
Differences between acid reflux and heartburn
Acid reflux and heartburn are related conditions, but they are not the same thing. Here are the differences between the two:
- Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, and it is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest that can often be accompanied by a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.
- This discomfort is caused by stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
- Acid reflux, on the other hand, is a condition that is characterized by the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus, and it can cause a variety of symptoms, including heartburn.
- Additionally, acid reflux can also cause other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and a persistent cough.
- Acid reflux is the condition that causes heartburn and other symptoms, while heartburn is the symptom of acid reflux that is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest.
Acid reflux is when stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, whereas, heartburn is the feeling of a burning sensation in the chest.
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