GERD & Heartburn Treatment Is Easier Than You Think!
The symptoms of acid reflux tend to be rather obvious: burning pain in the chest, which is alleviated by the use of antacids or other medication, belching, burping, perhaps the taste of acidic stomach contents in the mouth or throat…. if you suffer from acid reflux you probably know exactly what I’m talking about.
And the symptoms are often worse when you lie down or at night in bed, and also after a heavy meal.
However, there are less common acid reflux symptoms that it’s well worth knowing about because sometimes acid reflux appears in an unusual way. It’s important to treat acid reflux because if it becomes chronic, it can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor to cancer. So here are symptoms of acid reflux, both well-known and not so well known. If they’re familiar, you need to pay some attention to them.
1) Chest Pain
Obviously this occurs because stomach acid is moving up into the esophagus, and it’s the most classic and obvious symptom of acid reflux.
But when the pain lasts for a long time or is even more intense than you might expect, it can be mistaken for a heart attack. Unfortunately, it sometimes is a heart attack. This is due to the fact that the stomach and heart share branches of the same nerve – the vagus nerve.
In practice, you’re likely to know the difference, but it’s important that a sudden and unexpected onset of chest pain is not ignored. Indeed, one study found that in a group of people presenting at a hospital with symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), around 0.6% had symptoms due to ischemic heart disease.
Clearly, therefore, cardiac disease is one of the first things that has to be checked for in men and women whose chest pain is unexplained. Having said that, apparently as many as 30% of patients who are undergoing investigation of cardiac conditions due to chest pain produce no findings which account for the discomfort they’re experiencing.
These patients are often defined as having chest pain of undetermined origin, although a series of studies have revealed that when investigation based on pH and pressure monitoring in the esophagus is carried out, around 25% to 50% of these patients have evidence of abnormal GERD.
2) The Pain Worsens When You Lie Down
It makes sense when you think about it: stomach acid is supposed to stay in the stomach, but if the valve between the esophagus and stomach is weakened, then obviously there’s going to be more tendency for the acid to move up into the esophagus when you lie down or bend over. No wonder this is a symptom of acid reflux home remedies for which can be found here. It is also a symptom of heartburn.
The pressure of abdominal organs can cause stomach contents to move up into the esophagus; if you’re lying down, you lose the effect of gravity keeping contents of the stomach where they should be, so that the acidic material is more likely to move up into the esophagus.
This is the reason for that popular piece of advice so often given on sites about GERD and heartburn symptoms: raise the head of the bed by 6 inches or so so that you minimize the chances of reflux during the night, and do not eat a big meal in three hours before bedtime.
3) Pain Just After Eating
We’re all familiar with the sense of indigestion that comes from eating too much or too quickly, but when you experience symptoms of acid reflux after a meal, it may mean that you’re eating too much, so that the valve between the esophagus and stomach is overloaded, or it may mean that you’re eating the wrong things. The culprits here tend to be big fatty meals, alcohol intake, and smoking tobacco.
4) GERD Leaves A Bitter Taste
If you’ve ever had a case of reflux that was so strong you nearly vomited, you probably know exactly what acidic material in your mouth or throat tastes like. It’s not exactly pleasant. Indeed, these symptoms of acid reflux can be worse than unpleasant: they may cause choking. Certainly, if this happens at night you should see a doctor. If you wake up choking, you need medical attention urgently.
5) Symptoms Of Acid Reflux Can Make Your Voice Croaky
One of the most peculiar symptoms of acid reflux is hoarseness. The strange thing about reflux is that it can happen without the burning sensation, but the acid may reach as far as your vocal cords and begin to irritate them so that you become hoarse. If this happens more often just after you’ve eaten, it’s probably a sign of reflux. Read more about pharyngeal reflux here.
6) Sore Throats Don’t Always Mean A Cold
Although we tend to associate sore throats with coughs and colds, it’s entirely possible for acid reflux to cause a sore throat which becomes chronic. If you have no other symptoms, you might look at the possibility of acid reflux remedies.
It follows that other respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing can also be due to heartburn or acid reflux symptoms. One of the ways that you can establish whether or not this is true for you is by having ambulatory pH monitoring, where the amount of acid that is reaching your esophagus is measured over a 24-hour period as you go about your daily activities.
8) Watch Out For Asthma As A Symptom Of Acid Reflux
The reasons why symptoms of asthma and acid reflux go together are not clear, but go together they do. Whether one is a cause of the other is open to debate. It’s possible that acid in the throat causes the tracheae (the tubes taking air into the lungs) to close so as to protect the lungs from the entry of acidic material.
In one study*, it was found that among 109 asthma patients, heartburn, acid regurgitation, and swallowing difficulties were experienced by 77%, 55%, and 24% of the group respectively. At least 37% of asthmatics required anti-reflux medication. The conclusion the study reached was that asthma medications were associated with an increased likelihood of gastroesophageal reflux.
All we can say from this study is that there is a strong correlation with reflux-associated β-agonist inhaler use in asthmatics.
9) Feeling Sick
A consistent feeling of nausea after you’ve eaten may well indicate a problem with acid reflux. That’s particularly true if there is no other obvious reason why you keep feeling sick.
10) Producing A Lot Of Salivae
The stimulation of the nerves in the throat by the acid from the stomach can produce a reflex response of extra saliva production.
11) Swallowing Difficulty
If you’re having trouble swallowing, and it’s been going on for a while, then you might find that medical attention is a good idea. Damage to the tissues in the esophagus can cause scarring, swelling, and difficulty swallowing.
One study of dyspepsia and indigestion in England involved over 2,000 people. The idea was to find out how many people actually experienced dyspepsia or heartburn, and what the symptoms were.
The respondents to the postal questionnaire were asked if they had ever had indigestion for more than a few days, and where their symptoms were located. They were asked whether they had symptoms characteristics of heartburn and whether they had seen a doctor about them.
Over one-third of the people who responded to the questionnaires had never had dyspepsia; around 50% had symptoms of both gastroesophageal reflux and other upper abdominal pain. The results suggested that there was a large degree of overlap between men and women with pain in the upper abdomen, a sense of fullness or discomfort, and those with symptoms of reflux including pain behind the sternum and heartburn.