What are GERD Symptoms?

GERD symptoms include the common feeling of heartburn, but that is not the only sign. Some of the symptoms on this list may surprise you!

According to PubMed Health and Health.com, common symptoms of reflux are:

  • Heartburn, or a burning pain in the chest, that gets worse when you bend over, stoop down, lie down or eat (thus it can be worse at night). However, gastroesophageal reflux disease can mimic a heart attack, so if there is any doubt, get emergency help immediately.
  • Heartburn that is relieved by antacids
  • A feeling that food is stuck on its way to the stomach
  • Regurgitation (think of baby spit up)
  • Coughing or wheezing, especially after eating
  • Difficulty swallowing, probably because the throat has scar tissue in it
  • Hiccups that occur routinely
  • Burping, especially wet burps
  • Stomach fullness or bloating
  • Nausea, especially after meals
  • Hoarseness or voice change caused by the acid irritating your vocal cords
  • Sore throat without symptoms of a cold, especially if the soreness is after meals
  • Bitter taste, if the acid gets all the way to the back of your throat
  • Extra saliva caused by your body trying to rinse out an irritant (the acid)

What are Complications of GERD?

Untreated reflux can cause the uncomfortable symptoms to continue. It can also contribute to:

  • More asthma attacks
  • Bronchospasms
  • And chronic cough due to nerve irritation
  • Hoarseness
  • Tooth etching
  • Esophageal ulcers
  • Scarred esophagus
  • Barrett’s esophagus (which can increase the risk of esophageal cancer) from acid reactions.

How is GERD Diagnosed?

Usually accurate testing is not performed unless the symptoms are severe. Diagnosis is instead based on the reflux symptoms listed above.

If needed, however, a doctor may run a scope into your mouth, down your esophagus, and through your stomach and small intestine. This procedure is appropriately called a “esophagogastroduodenoscopy.”

A doctor may also have you do a barium swallow, in which she/he can monitor where the barium goes thru x-rays to see if there is a restriction or ulcers. You may do continuous esophageal pH monitoring as another option.

Another test may be esophageal manometry in which the ability of the esophagus to contract and relax is measured with a pressure-sensing tube. If the esophagus is not contracting and relaxing properly, then food and drink is not being transported correctly to the stomach.

Endoscopic or invasive surgeries are sometimes prescribed, although reflux symptoms may still persist.

So What is a Person With GERD Symptoms To Do?

Fortunately, there is hope for reflux. Find out about the benefits and risks of:

Treatment with antacids.

Treatment with proton-pump inhibitors

Treatment with H2 blockers.

Help from probiotics, and why you need stomach acid.

Return to the page about reflux causes.


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