Acid reflux vs. Gastritis: Understanding the Difference

Acid reflux and gastritis are both digestive disorders that entail very similar symptoms, which is precisely why you might often find yourself getting confused between the two. 

However, apart from some weak links here and there, these two are not connected and have distinguishable differences. The appropriate treatment can’t be decided if your disease is not correctly diagnosed.

“Acid reflux VS gastritis” Do you wonder which one is worse? Can one cause the other? How to tell the difference?

Keep reading this article to get answers to your questions once and for all.

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a digestive problem where the acids in your stomach reflux into the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in your chest. It is caused when a vital muscle, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), malfunctions. LES is a ring of muscle that connects your lower esophagus and stomach, and its job is to open and close to let the swallowed food/liquid substances enter your stomach. In the case of GERD, LES will malfunction and relax at the wrong time, allowing stomach acids to enter your food pipe.

If heartburn symptoms are experienced frequently, that means you have developed a chronic condition, and it can be referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Symptoms of GERD

  1. Burning sensation in your chest (heartburn)
  2. Sharp chest pain and abdominal pain
  3. The feeling of a lump in your throat
  4. Difficulty swallowing
  5. Trouble sleeping at night or discomfort while lying down
  6. Sore throat and hoarseness of voice

Read also: Are Acid Reflux And Hemorrhoids Related? 

What Is Gastritis?

Gastritis is one of the gastrointestinal disorders. The mucus barriers that act as your stomach linings are called mucosa, and even though they are usually strong and resistant, in some cases, they can get compromised and become vulnerable to stomach acids. The acids will inflame the lining of your stomach and cause it to turn red and swollen.

Substances such as alcohol, spicy foods, and smoke increase your body’s acid levels, so their overconsumption will weaken the barriers and irritate your stomach lining. If you use pain relievers such as NSAIDs, they could have been a cause of gastritis as well. This type of drug irritates the gastric mucosa and makes your body more prone to gastritis. 

Read also: Home Remedies For Heartburn: 20 Fast Ways To Get Rid Of Acid Reflux

As you must know, your body requires several essential bacteria to function correctly. When one such bacteria, named h pylori, overproduces, they threaten your digestive system and begin to eat into your stomach tissue, increasing the risk of gastritis.

Gastritis symptoms can either appear quickly (acute gastritis) or develop over time (chronic gastritis.)

Symptoms of Gastritis

  1. Lack of appetite, unintentional weight loss, or malnutrition
  2. Stomach ache
  3. burning pain (inflammation) in your upper abdomen
  4. Nausea and fatigue 
  5. Upper gut feeling full after eating

Why Are These Two Linked?

Apart from the fact these both are digestive disorders. You must be wondering if there’s any further connection as well.

Read also: Is Coconut Good For Acid Reflux?

Mainly Triggered By Acids

One of the main reasons you might be unable to distinguish between their medical knowledge is that both of their core reasons are identifiably the leakage or mislay of stomach acids.

When your dietary behavior is fiber deprived, and you eat trigger substances such as spicy foods, fatty foods, alcohol, and greasy meals, acid production is bound to increase.

Your stomach won’t be spacious enough for the acids, which will start traveling in your digestive tract. The same gastric acids will harm both your esophagus and stomach lining.

Both Have Similar Symptoms 

Since both are digestive disorders, it is understandable that their symptoms are alike as well. It is possible that you could have been confused about whether you had GERD or gastritis because the location and nature of their early indications are very similar. 

Such indistinguishable symptoms are listed below.

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Bloating, cramp-like stomach ache
  3. Dyspepsia (recurring indications of indigestion/acidity)
  4. Inflammation of organs

Read also: Is Sea Moss Good For Acid Reflux – Solved

Acid reflux VS Gastritis: How Are They Different?

Despite all the similarities, at the end of the day, science is confident that gastritis and gastroesophageal reflux disease are different. Their symptoms and causes may be interconnected, but these diseases’ natures are different.

Inflammation In Different Parts of The Digestive Tract

Even though GERD and gastritis involve inflammation of organs, the main difference is their location. In the case of GERD, they will reflux in your esophagus and cause your GI tract to get inflamed. Meanwhile, in gastritis, the stomach acids will irritate and cause inflammation of the stomach lining.

The irritation, pain, and burning sensation will be experienced in different parts of your body. If you keep track of that pain’s location, it can be easier to diagnose whether you have GERD or gastritis.

Gerd Can Be More Life-threatening 

Another difference between the two is their risk of causing further complications. Gastritis’s long-term consequences can be ulcers and stomach bleeding, and in some severe cases, there is a risk of stomach cancer, but that complication is extremely rare.

Meanwhile, GERD patients can develop sinus and mucus problems if the acid problem isn’t solved. The risk of developing esophageal cancer because of constant inflammation is also very high for GERD patients.

Gerd is a complicated disease that can have a domino effect on your body, and recent studies have confirmed that GERD patients are more likely to have gastritis than the opposite.

Read also: Can a Heating Pad Help With Acid Reflux?

Treatment Options

If you’re experiencing the previously listed GERD symptoms/ acid reflux symptoms frequently, it is important to understand that you need proper medical care. Consult your healthcare provider immediately and after taking some blood tests and physical exams he can confirm whether or not you have gastroesophageal reflux disease 

Unfortunately, if you are GERD-positive. The following options can be followed:

Treatment For Acid Reflux

  • Change in dietary behavior

Recurring heartburn and other symptoms of GERD can usually be prevented by making some necessary changes in your diet. Substances such as spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy products, acidic foods, and citrus fruits mainly trigger reflux, so by removing them from your diet and adopting a high-fiber diet with low calories, the further worsening of GERD can be prevented to a great degree.

  • medications/ prescribed drugs

 To ease the pain and discomfort, prescribed medications can be taken. These might include H2 blockers and counter medication such as proton pump inhibitors. The acids will be either neutralized or reduced by using these drugs, but you should consult your doctor before taking any off-the-counter medicines.

  • Surgical procedures

Surgery and other medical procedures can be performed in extreme cases where GERD only seems to worsen despite precautions and medications. Treatment options might include inserting a Linx device in your stomach or a gastric bypass procedure that will remove the pyloric valve in your stomach, reducing pressure on the abdomen and making it easier for your LES to function. Out of all these methods, Nissen fundoplication is the one with the highest success rates.

Consequences If Left Untreated

  1. Barrett’s esophagus
  2. Esophageal cancer
  3. Esophagitis
  4. Stomach ulcers
  5. Aspiration pneumonia 

Treatment For Gastritis 

Gastritis may be less threatening than GERD, but it can still significantly affect your life and daily routine, so if you note any unusual symptoms, your doctor or healthcare provider should be notified.

Doctors can perform an upper endoscopy to diagnose gastritis, and then treatment plans can be followed.

  • Prescription medications

Like gastroesophageal reflux disease, the same antacids and acid reducers can also treat gastritis. Once the primary reason, i.e., the excess of acids, is solved, its effects on the esophagus and stomach lining will also reduce. Some well-known and beneficial ones are lansoprazole and omeprazole.

  • Mandatory restrictions

It is advised to avoid large meals so that your stomach will not be pressured. Other than that, trigger substances that increase acids should be avoided—especially alcohol and smoking, which are known to weaken stomach linings significantly.

Some substances that you should add to your daily routine are garlic extract, essential oils, probiotics, vitamin b, and green tea.

  • Surgical procedures

Precautions and medicine will help you prevent gastritis; typically, surgery is not required for gastritis patients. Still, if you have phlegmonous gastritis in which bacteria have severely infected your gastric wall, then procedures can be performed to remove the affected area permanently. 

Consequences If Left Untreated

  1. Stomach bleeding
  2. Peptic ulcers (mainly stomach ulcers)
  3. Increased risk of stomach cancer and gastric cancer
  4. Permanent damage to the lining of your stomach

Acid Reflux VS Gastritis Summary

Acid reflux VS Gastritis are both digestive disorders, and not only do they cause uncomfortable symptoms, but as we discussed above, ignorance can cause life-threatening consequences in some severe cases.

We hope all your doubts about acid reflux and gastritis are solved. The last advice is to inform your doctor if you’re experiencing similar symptoms, even mild ones. Because the sooner you diagnose and treat them, the lesser permanent damage will occur. 

 Do you finally understand all the differences, similarities, and links between acid reflux and GERD? Share it with your friends to inform them too.