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GERD, Acid Reflux and Heartburn

What Is GERD, Acid Reflux and Heartburn?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux and heartburn all occur when digestive juices rise up the digestive tract into the esophagus with food. This acid causes a burning sensation in the back of the throat and chest, which is where the name “heartburn” comes from.

GERD is generally considered more serious than acid reflux or heartburn, and requires a diagnosis from a medical professional, such as a gastroenterologist. While everyone may experience heartburn or acid reflux from time to time, GERD may be suspected if you experience reflux more than twice a week.

Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase an individual’s risk of GERD, including:


Symptoms of GERD include:

  • Frequent heartburn

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Dry cough

  • Asthma symptoms

Treatment Options

It’s important to treat GERD quickly to avoid long-term health risks, including ulcers, bleeding, esophagitis or Barrett’s esophagus. Treatment for GERD may include medication or lifestyle changes. Your gastroenterologist will discuss which treatment option is best for you, including:

  • Improve your health – If you smoke, your doctor will discuss how quitting can help relieve GERD symptoms. Losing weight can also help improve acid reflux.

  • Adjust eating habits – Eating small, frequent meals, avoiding foods and drinks that worsen symptoms, and staying up right (without lying down) for three hours after meals can help avoid acid reflux.

  • Raise head of the bed – Placing wood blocks or another solid item under the bedposts by the head of the bed will keep you at an incline while sleeping to relieve GERD symptoms.

  • Medication – Your gastroenterologist will discuss which medication is right for your GERD. Antacids, foaming agency, H2 blockers or a proton pump inhibitor can help address the source of your heartburn and improve your symptoms.

  • Surgery – Surgery may be needed to address severe GERD that isn’t managed with medication or diet and lifestyle modification. At Temple Health, we offer a wide range of surgical options for diagnosing and treating GERD, including fundoplication, endoscopic techniques and LINX, an innovative and minimally invasive surgery that helps prevent reflux.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn.

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Temple Gastroenterology

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