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The Difference between Heartburn and GERD

heartburnandgerdphotoPretty much everyone has dealt with heartburn at one time or another. That burning in your chest or throat that won’t seem to go away without medicine is uncomfortable and frustrating. Many times, you can pin point something that you ate that triggers the heartburn, but sometimes, it seems to come from nowhere, or perhaps from simply overeating. There is a difference between the occasional heartburn and GERD, however.

GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It occurs when there is damage or weakening of the muscle that works like a door to seal off the stomach contents from the esophagus. This muscle is known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES. If it does not work properly, the stomach contents rise up into the esophagus on a regular basis, creating that dreaded heartburn feeling daily, pretty much with no regard to what types of foods are consumed.

While most every person with GERD will experience severe heartburn, there are other symptoms than can be present with the disease as well. These could include issues with the throat like laryngitis, hoarseness of speech, sore throat, a lump in the throat sort of feeling, or a persistent dry cough. GERD sufferers may also suffer from bad breath, an increase in saliva, nausea, and earaches. Those with the disease who also suffer from asthma will likely have more problems with their asthma than ever before. GERD not only worsens the symptoms of asthma, but medication for asthma tends to worsen the symptoms of GERD as well.

If you feel like you may have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, take the time to see a specialist and have it checked out. You don’t have to live with the problem forever. Sometimes, the right medication is all you need, or if the problem is severe, there is a surgery available that can eliminate the issue for good.

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