Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and acid reflux are related conditions but are not the same, according to Mayo Clinic. Acid reflux is associated with an occasional burning feeling in the chest, or a sour liquid taste in the back of the mouth caused by stomach acid flowing backward up into the esophagus. GERD is a more severe condition caused by frequent acid reflux.
Symptoms of GERD include frequent regurgitation of food and liquid, frequent heartburn, coughing, wheezing, difficulty swallowing and chest pain, states Mayo Clinic. Obesity, pregnancy, smoking, asthma, diabetes and connective tissue disorders are factors that increase the risk of developing GERD.
Chocolate, fried foods, coffee, alcoholic drinks and other substances can trigger acid reflux, according to WebMD. Doctors usually recommend avoiding these substances and making other lifestyle changes to relieve and reduce the symptoms of GERD. Decreasing the size of meals, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are also recommended to reduce GERD symptoms. Some medications, such as antacids, H2 blockers, motility drugs and proton pump inhibitors, are used to treat GERD.
If the symptoms persist, X-rays, an endoscopy or surgery may be recommended, states WebMD. Some long-term complications of GERD are esophagitis and Barrett's esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.