Recognizing the Symptoms of Acid Reflux and GERD

Most people think of heartburn when they think of acid reflux and GERD

Heartburn is often described as a burning feeling in the center of your chest and this is the number one symptom complaint in those who have acid reflux. Since the esophagus runs behind our windpipe and heart, when acid reflux occurs, it makes sense that we could feel that burn in our chest.

With heartburn, the symptoms can vary from minor to significant. Most of the time that depends on the quantity of food that has been consumed (how large your meal or beverage intake was) and the types of food and beverage consumed (know your triggers!). When you start to get that burning feeling in your throat or chest from the acid or indigestion making its way back into your esophagus, it can lead to a sore throat and additional discomfort such as coughing or trouble swallowing.

If you have heartburn more than twice a week for several weeks, you may have GERD.

Taking over the counter medications to treat your heartburn on a regular basis is not something you should be treating on your own because it is possible you might have developed GERD- gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD can lead to serious problems and needs to be managed by your medical provider. 

Since not everyone who suffers from GERD may experience heartburn, there are additional symptoms to be on the lookout for with GERD:

  • Experiencing a feeling like there is food stuck in your throat
  • Experiencing a feeling like your throat is tight or that you are choking
  • Regurgitation (when food/drink comes back up into your mouth)
  • A dry cough
  • Bad breath
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Problems swallowing
  • Frequent belching
  • Throat soreness and hoarseness of the voice, especially in the morning

Dentists can recognize acid reflux and GERD in individuals during their yearly check-ups based on the erosion of the enamel on their teeth, at times even before a formal diagnosis has been made by a medical provider. This is why keeping up with your yearly dental check-ups is also very important!

Other symptoms that could be GERD-related or something much more serious

If you have any of the following symptoms, they could be GERD-related complication or they could be a sign of something more serious and a medical provider should be consulted right away for further evaluation:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chest pain (when to worry)
  • Pain with swallowing and/or persistent swallowing problems
  • Continual vomiting
  • Exhibiting signs of a gastrointestinal bleed (fecal stool contains blood or looks black/tarry and/or vomit contains blood or looks consistent to coffee grounds)

Recognizing the symptoms of acid reflux and GERD is the first step in preventing any further harm from coming to your esophagus and possibly preventing some serious complications and even more serious conditions such as esophageal cancer. Check out our GERD-Diet Demystified series and GERD-friendly products here on Foodguides.com for symptom management and relief.

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