Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"How does GERD differ from heartburn?"

ZocdocAnswersHow does GERD differ from heartburn?


When I met with my doctor a few weeks ago, he asked me to keep a diary to help determine whether I have GERD. I don't get it, though ? we already know I have heartburn, so doesn't hat mean I have GERD? Or is there some difference that I'm missing?


GERD is gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a process of abnormal reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. As you have experienced, heartburn is a typical and very common consequence of this process, caused by irritation of the lining of the esophagus and stomach by the acid. Your physician may have asked you to keep a diary to help better determine the patterns of your GERD, such as what time of day the symptoms are worst, what types of foods trigger your heartburn, and how often and frequent you are affected by your pain. These details can help you and your physician devise a treatment plan that best suits your specific disease process. For example, if your symptoms are worst in the morning, you may try avoiding late night snacks and keep the head of your bed more elevated than you normally do. If your symptoms come only occasionally (e.g. a few times per week) and are not that severe, you may be able to take an over-the-counter medication on an as needed basis only. If your symptoms come more frequently or are more severe, then you may need to start a daily prescribed medication to get your reflux under control.

Zocdoc Answers 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 (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.