Gastritis and GERD, similar – but not the same

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A significant symptom of GERD is the rising of the stomach acid to the throat and mouth, causing nausea. (Source: Freepik)

Jakarta, IO – Many people do not know that gastritis and gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) are different. This is because they are both health problems caused by stomach acids, and it is difficult to tell the difference. The two illnesses are frequently conflated. However, gastritis is not an illness, while GERD is. A patient may suffer from both problems simultaneously. 

“Gastritis, or ‘dyspepsia’ to use its proper medical term, is a syndrome or set of symptoms that are comprised of a sense of discomfort in the pit of the stomach, nausea, or epigastric bloating. On the contrary, GERD is when your stomach acid rises back all the way to the throat because of weakness in the lower muscles of the throat. GERD attack is felt above the stomach region, with its signature symptom of heartburn – that’s a burning sensation in the chest – and severe burping, with a sharp acidic taste in the mouth,” said dr. Muhammad Firhat Idrus, Sp.PD,, internal organ specialist practicing in the University of Indonesia Hospital in Depok, West Java, in the “University of Indonesia Hospital’s Ask The Expert: Gastritis Vs GERD, Know the Difference” live IG session held on Tuesday (21/06/2022). 

There are two causes of gastritis. First, it is an organic abnormality in the form of ulcers, inflammation, or even a tumor. Second, a functional abnormality where the digestive organ is extra-sensitive towards normal level of stomach acids, or it can be affected by psychological factors. “GERD is not caused by any inherent abnormalities. The stomach acid simply rises up to the throat because of lifestyle issues, such as intense consumption of spicy, fatty, and oily foods; chocolate; and tobacco; or the bad habit of sleeping directly after eating,” dr. Firhat said. 

“GERD is not life threatening. However, if it recurs repeatedly, it will lower the quality of your life. Patients normally complain of breathing difficulty, constant coughing because of irritated respiratory flaps, or in severe cases, damage to the teeth because the acid rises all the way to the mouth. In very rare cases, GERD may also cause esophageal cancer.”