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What is acid reflux?

I am a young guy and I often get heartburn after meals. My girlfriend's father has acid reflux and she says I might, too. But I don't get it. Isn't acid reflux just the same thing as heartburn?
The medical term for heartburn is acid reflux (also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD). Your mouth is connected to your stomach by a tube known as the esophagus. Acid reflux is when the acid in the stomach goes backward and travels up the esophagus and to the back of the throat. It is a condition that can occur in people of all ages. Individuals with acid reflux may have a variety of symptoms, including stomach pain, throat pain, chest pain, painful or difficult swallowing, sore throat, feeling hoarse, or taste of acid. Heartburn that continues for a long period of time may lead to narrowing of the esophagus, ulcers in esophagus or stomach as well as lung problems. There are many treatments available for acid reflux. Lifestyle changes can be very helpful. These include avoiding certain foods, changing meal times to not eat before bedtime, quitting smoking and losing weight. Medications are also available to treat reflux and are safe and effective. It is important to talk to your primary care doctor to further evaluate the heartburn symptoms you are having. They may consider some tests to determine whether this is reflux and if you are having any complications.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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