Heartburn vs. Acid Reflux: How They Differ?

The terms heartburn and acid reflux are often interchangeably used even though they are entirely different from each other. Both of them are health conditions, and you’ll experience various symptoms for each of them. However, some symptoms may overlap.

In this heartburn vs. acid reflux guide, we’ll discuss the differences between both so that it’s easy for you to identify both.

 

Heartburn vs. Acid Reflux: An Overview

Acid reflux is a health condition where the patient will experience symptoms like a bitter taste in the mouth, upset stomach, nausea, belching, feeling full, bloated abdomen or stomach, dry cough, hoarseness, wheezing, and more.

On the other hand, heartburn is only a symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn can be caused even without acid reflux. Patients affected with heartburn feel a sharp, burning sensation in the chest.

 

What Is Heartburn?

heartburn

Heartburn is a misleading term because this condition has nothing to do with your heart. It is called heartburn because people only ‘feel’ the sensation in their hearts.

In reality, it’s caused by your esophagus. The acid in the lining of your esophagus causes a burning sensation in your chest, and that can feel like a tight, burning sensation.

Because this is felt in the chest region, many people mistake this for heart attack pain. Hence it’s termed heartburn.

 

What Is Acid Reflux?

acid reflux

It’s a simple yet common health condition that allows the acid from your stomach to escape outwards. There’s a circular muscle that joins your esophagus and stomach known as Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES).

This muscle tightens after food intake so that the food particles and the acid can’t escape into your esophagus.

However, if this muscle fails to close the opening properly due to being weak, the acid escapes backward to your esophagus, leading to multiple symptoms, including heartburn.

 

Difference Between Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Let’s take a look at the key differences between heartburn and acid reflux.

Causes

The causes behind heartburn and acid reflux can be the same, as heartburn is itself a cause of acid reflux.

That only means that if you experience heartburn, you’re suffering from acid reflux as well. However, suffering from acid reflux doesn’t guarantee that you’ll experience heartburn.

Some of the causes of heartburn and acid reflux are:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Slouching
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating large meals
  • Weight gain
  • Eating fast
  • Medications like nitrates, antihistamines, theophylline, etc
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Eating before sleeping

These are the major causes of acid reflux. Even though it’s not possible to avoid all of them, some of them are easy to avoid, and doing so will save you from another bad day.

 

Symptoms

Heartburn vs. Acid Reflux: Symptoms

The major differences between heartburn and acid reflux are in the symptoms. As we’ve discussed earlier, heartburn can cause:

  • Soreness of the throat
  • Sharp pain in the chest
  • Acidic taste in the chest

However, heartburn is actually one of the symptoms of acid reflux. Acid reflux can cause the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Sore throat
  • Warm or acidic taste at the throat
  • Throat tightening
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing

These are the major symptoms that you will experience if you’re suffering from acid reflux.

 

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Treatment

Heartburn and acid reflux can be treated and prevented at home easily. Let’s take a look at how you can prevent and minimize the chances of getting afflicted by heartburn and acid reflux.

  • One of the major causes of heartburn is smoking. If you’re suffering from heartburn constantly, you can try stopping smoking for some time and see if that makes things better.
  • It’s seen that obese people suffer from heartburn more often than people with regular weight. You can try losing some weight to treat heartburn.
  • The more fatty food you take, the more you’ll suffer from heartburn. Try regulating the intake of fatty food.
  • Try to avoid spicy and acidic food if you’re suffering from heartburn constantly. Foods like carbonated beverages or spicy fast food can lead to heartburn.
  • Tomato and tomato-related products can cause heartburn and acid reflux.

 

Heartburn vs. Acid Reflux: The Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Acid Reflux Heartburn
Symptoms All the symptoms of heartburn, plus bitter taste in the mouth, upset stomach, belching, feeling full, bloated abdomen or stomach, hoarseness, and more Sore throat, burning sensation at the back of the throat, burning sensation in the chest
Causes Smoking, Obesity, slouching, drinking alcohol, eating large meals, weight gain, eating fast, and more

 

Heartburn occurs mainly after eating, but slouching can also cause this
Treatment Losing weight, stopping smoking,

avoiding spicy, fatty, and acidic foods

The same reasons as acid reflux

 

Key Takeaways

  • Acid reflux and heartburn are different but closely related.
  • Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux.
  • The causes behind the two are the same.
  • They can be treated with the same practices and medicines.
  • It’s possible to prevent both acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Acid reflux can lead to symptoms other than heartburn.

 

Conclusion

We hope our heartburn vs. acid reflux article helped you learn the differences, causes behind them, and the preventive methods. As long as you know how to handle these similar conditions, you won’t suffer after taking certain food items or heavy meals.

 

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