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Health Answers: What’s the difference between heartburn and GERD?

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Q: What’s the difference between heartburn and GERD?

A: Heartburn is the pain that results from acid reflux — when acidic contents in the stomach make their way back up to the esophagus. Normally, a sphincter muscle prevents acid from traveling backwards, but when acid gets through it can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest.

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