What Are The Symptoms Of GERD? When Heartburn Is Serious

A Fiery Feeling In The Chest

Many people experience an occasional feeling of acid reflux. However, a more serious problem is at play when acid reflux happens repeatedly. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid repeatedly flows back into the esophagus, the tube linking the stomach and the mouth. When reflux happens, the esophagus lining becomes irritated, causing unwanted symptoms.

Do I have GERD?

The 2 main symptoms of GERD include a persistent burning sensation in the chest and regurgitation of food or liquids. Other symptoms can include chest pain, swallowing difficulty, sore throat, hoarseness, vomiting, dry cough, and bad breath. Some people describe feeling like something is stuck in the throat. Not everyone with GERD gets heartburn. Instead, some have other symptoms.

Understanding heartburn

A persistent painful burning sensation in the chest is known as heartburn. The burning sensation can happen anytime but worsens after eating. The feeling can impact a person’s sleeping pattern. Usually, heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. However, if OTC medications are used for over 2 weeks without relief, a healthcare provider should be contacted. Additionally, feeling nauseous, significant weight loss, or experiencing interference with daily activities are all signs that heartburn is more serious.

Health dangers of GERD

With gastroesophageal reflux disease, a more significant form of acid reflux, backflow of stomach acid becomes a chronic problem, and over time this condition can negatively impact health. GERD is not life-threatening but can cause problems such as esophagitis, strictures, and esophageal cancer. Identifying and treating GERD as soon as possible can minimize symptoms and help prevent further health complications.

An ounce of prevention

There are ways to prevent heartburn from happening. The easiest way is to pay attention to what triggers heartburn symptoms and avoid the trigger. Common foods that cause heartburn include spicy foods, fried and fatty foods, citrus fruits, chocolates, alcohol, and caffeine. Have a proper eating schedule, and do not eat right before sleeping. Maintain a healthy weight and avoid unhealthy habits such as eating fatty food and smoking.

The GERD prognosis

Usually, the outlook for GERD is good and manageable. The condition can be treated by avoiding triggers and taking medication. If symptoms persist despite taking OTC drugs for more than 2 weeks, the healthcare provider should be contacted. Occasional heartburn is a pain, but the more severe form of GERD requires identification, lifestyle changes, and treatment for the best prognosis.


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