Many used the terms indigestion and acid reflux interchangeably and to mean the same thing. However, in reality, there are a number of differences between the two conditions. Although acid reflux symptoms are similar to those that you experienced with indigestion, they are more often than not a lot more severe and can last more than a few hours.
In its most serious form, acid reflux is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is characterised by pain in the oesophagus and throat where the acid from the stomach causes damage to the lining. These symptoms can often only be relieved with medications and so it is important that anyone suffering from prolonged pain to consult the doctor with little delay.
If left untreated the acid reflux symptoms can become unbearable as the lining of the oesophagus is slowly eroded away by the stomach acid. The worst case scenario is that oesophageal cancer or any of the other serious and potentially life-threatening throat conditions develop which are a lot harder to treat than the initial complaint.
Indigestion is often thought to be a milder version although this is not technically true. Some of the symptoms are similar however indigestion has a number of symptoms not experienced in acid reflux and vice versa. For example, one of the most common symptoms of indigestion is gassy episodes and often these episodes are felt by sufferers of true acid reflux. Indigestion sufferers may also have an uncomfortable feeling around the chest and shoulder area that is not relieved by burping.
If you over-eat or eat too quickly, there is a good chance of getting indigestion. Basically, you have just bombarded your stomach with food and acid is produced in large quantities. Acid reflux however is caused when the sphincter at the top of the stomach is weakened and the stomach acid is allowed to travel up the oesophagus and often into the throat. Because of different causes, you feel the major symptoms of the two conditions in different parts of the body; that is, the chest in indigestion and the throat/oesophagus in acid reflux.
Whether you are having indigestion or acid reflux, you are likely to experience pain and a great deal of discomfort. The good news is that both can be managed with changing your eating and lifestyle habits. Making a few changes can help you to alleviate the pain that accompany their symptoms. Where you experience extreme pain, despite making these lifestyle changes, you should see a doctor quickly.