Of all the symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn is the most common. However, did you know there are a variety of other symptoms from problems sleeping to problems with your teeth that could indicate you have reflux disease? Read on to learn about the symptoms of GERD and what to do about them.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), or reflux disease, affects everyone differently. While only an occasional problem for some, GERD can be a lifestyle-limiting disease for many. It can disrupt daily activities, disturb sleep, and decrease work productivity. People with GERD experience a variety of symptoms, in addition to the classic symptom of heartburn. Unfortunately, symptoms of acid reflux tend to become more frequent and more severe over time and can lead to serious complications if left unchecked.
Common symptoms of acid reflux
Heartburn is the classic GERD symptom. It’s best described as a burning sensation in the chest and/or discomfort in the upper belly or abdomen accompanied by a feeling of fullness.
Regurgitation is hard to miss. It’s the sudden feeling of the contents of the stomach rising from the stomach back into the mouth. A horrible bitter taste and burning in the throat usually accompany it. Read Regurgitation: A sign of advancing reflux disease to learn why this symptom is such a reliable symptom that your GERD is severe.
Difficulty swallowing (Dysphagia)
Although mild difficulty swallowing is often a common symptom of GERD, more severe difficulty swallowing could be a symptom of cancer and should be promptly evaluated. Read Difficulty swallowing? See your doctor to learn why this symptom should always be evaluated by a physician.
GERD and heart disease share this symptom; so always seek immediate medical attention for chest pain to rule out a possible heart condition.
Symptoms you probably don’t expect
In addition, there are less common symptoms of acid reflux that people don’t always realize can be related to GERD:
If you experience these less common symptoms, especially those related to the throat, you may have a related condition called laryngopharyngel reflux, or LPR.
What you should do about your symptoms
There are many things you can do to relieve your symptoms of acid reflux. Since excessive weight or obesity is the primary reason most people suffer from GERD, the very first recommendation is to maintain a BMI of 24 or less. Likewise, diet is a major issue for many and we highly recommend learning about the 5 steps to an effective acid reflux diet. In addition, you can begin adjusting your lifestyle and consider taking less powerful acid reducing medications – but what works for you will largely depend on how often and how severe your symptoms are.
A note about alarm symptoms
If you experience any of the alarm symptoms, you should always see your doctor to rule out any serious complications. In addition, since reflux disease is progressive, the risk of complications increases the longer you experience symptoms. If you have had symptoms for longer than 5-10 years, you are at an increased risk for Barrett’s esophagus and cancer and should talk to your physician about an endoscopy to examine your esophagus.
Take our assessment now to learn what your symptoms of acid reflux mean and read our personalized suggestions to help you take control of your disease.
Reviewed by: Dr. Dengler, RefluxMD Medical Director