With over 60% of the population having been expected to experience some form of acid reflux in the last 12 months and an unlucky 20-30% of those people suffering on a weekly basis, it’s no wonder that such a common problem has become an accepted, uncomfortable part of one’s day.
Acid indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn- these are all symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. It’s important that anyone experiencing these symptoms does not let them go untreated. If you experience what you believe to be intermittent, or ongoing indigestion, you should keep a journal to note the times and places you experience GERD discomfort. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify physiological triggers and eliminate dietary or environmental factors that contribute to your symptoms.
Here are five symptoms you should be on the lookout for, and diligently logging in your journal:
Chest pain associated with acid reflux develops from stomach acid that splashes up into the esophagus. The degree of pain can vary from tender to sharp, and include tightness in the chest. In fact, the tightness can be so intense that people sometimes mistake it for a heart attack. The ambiguity of discomfort occurs because the nerves in the stomach and heart do not provide a clear signal to the brain the exact source of the pain. It is crucial that you seek medical counsel if you suffer any chest pain since it could be a result of a cardiac incident.
If you bend over or lie down, you are inadvertently encouraging stomach acid to flow upwards to the esophagus. When this happens, your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscles that control the flow of contents between your esophagus and your stomach, is not functioning properly. This problem can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult, because you may experience GERD symptoms such as heartburn, acidic burps, or slight regurgitation. A potential remedy for this problem is an adjustable air bed to keep your upper half in an upright position. Adjustable air beds are ideal for a full night’s sleep, daytime naps, and just resting in general.
LEARN MORE: How to Treat Heartburn Using Elevation Therapy
Hoarse voice and sore throat
While you may think that you have the onset of a cold, a hoarse voice that seems to never fully recover can also be a sign of GERD. Your voice can become gruff, and your throat sore, because the vocal cords (larynx) are inflamed by an influx of acid. You may only notice this occurring after you have eaten a meal. Sometimes it presents itself as if there’s a lump in your throat. However, whichever symptoms present themselves, make a note for future reference.
Chronic dry cough
GERD can cause a chronic dry cough that often worsens at night. A prolonged period of respiratory symptoms can trigger asthma, as it is thought that the stomach acid triggers the nerves in the chest to constrict the lungs, in an attempt to restrict the acid from leaving the stomach. Whatever the cause of the relationship between asthma and GERD, it is important to have tests done at a GERD specialist’s office to confirm and treat your condition.
LEARN MORE: How do I relieve my chronic cough?
For some people, the only GERD symptom they have is a post-mealtime feeling of nausea. If this is the case for you, an over-the-counter reflux solution can be taken. Nausea is one of the symptoms that can be hard to tie-down to reflux alone, as there are many other reasons for feeling nauseous. By making a note of when you feel sick in your reflux journal, you should be able to narrow down the causes.
LEARN MORE: Is there such a thing as acid reflux nausea?
Match your symptoms with other key factors
In addition to journaling your symptoms, logging your dietary habits and activities can help you get a handle on heartburn and other acid reflux-related symptoms. By recording specific pieces of information such as the time of day you’re eating, the type and quantities of foods you consume along with the details of your acid reflux symptoms, you’ll be taking a systematic approach to identifying your triggers.
Keeping a food diary while journaling your symptoms sounds time-consuming, but the effort will help you more easily identify acid reflux triggers to avoid or behaviors that make your symptoms worse. Keep in mind that you won’t need to maintain this journal for an extended period. Two weeks to one month should be all the time that’s needed to create a map of your dietary and related behaviors, allowing you and your physician to quickly zero in on the triggers contributing to your GERD symptoms.
While journaling your symptoms, foods, and activities may not always be convenient, it is essential for identifying patterns and triggers. You cannot define a pattern unless you are observing behaviors and your health over an extended time frame. Not only will you see if your symptoms are methodic, but you’ll also have an accurate and informative record to give your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Get started today – it will get you started on your path to path to relief and good health.