7 Symptoms of Acid Reflux

If you experience symptoms of acid reflux, you are not alone. Twenty percent of the population is painfully aware of this condition. 25 percent of reflux sufferers experience symptoms daily. Many people confuse acid reflux with indigestion. While pain may be felt in your chest, acid reflux has nothing to do with the health of your heart.

Acid reflux is caused by a dysfunction in your lower esophagus. The Hydrochloric acid in your stomach breaks down food and helps protect your body from bacteria and other pathogens. The stomach is well protected from this powerful acid. The esophagus is not. Your gastroesophageal sphincter is supposed to close after food passes through the opening.

For some people, this valve does not close all the way. Then the hydrochloric acid from your stomach regurgitates into your esophagus. The burning from the hydrochloric acid is what causes your symptoms. If left untreated, chronic reflux can cause permanent damage to your esophagus. You need to be aware of the following seven signs and symptoms of acid reflux.

1. Heartburn

With this symptom, you will feel a mild to severe pain in your chest, just behind your breastbone, caused by stomach acid. You may most often experience this symptom after eating. Although the terms are used interchangeably, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. You may feel a tightness or burning sensation. Symptoms can be made worse by lying down or bending forward. This symptom can last for two hours, or even longer.

Mild indigestion can be treated with an over-the-counter antacid. If you are taking medication to relieve symptoms more than twice a week, you may want to make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

The foods and beverages you choose can cause your discomfort. People react to foods differently. In general, alcohol, coffee, acidic foods, fatty foods and spices can aggravate symptoms. Keeping a food journal can help you determine if any dietary changes could alleviate your pain.

2. Nausea

Nausea is a common symptom of many conditions. With some people, their only symptom of reflux is nausea after meals. If you frequently feel nauseous after eating, you may want to inform your doctor. Keep in mind that acid reflux and nausea can also strike when your stomach is empty.

That nauseous feeling caused by stomach acids can often be treated with lifestyle modifications and medication. You may be able to limit the frequency of your symptoms by eating smaller meals throughout the day. Chewing gum after meals may also relieve your discomfort.

3. Regurgitation

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs into your esophagus. Regurgitating means the acid and undigested food enters backwards into your mouth. Some people describe regurgitating as a “wet burp.” You may also have a burning sensation in your throat.

Regurgitation is viewed to be an unmistakable symptom of acid reflux. It will be necessary to treat the condition to stop the regurgitating.

Regurgitation can erode your tooth enamel and can cause pneumonia and severe lung damage (pulmonary fibrosis) if the regurgitated material is inhaled. Frequent regurgitation is serious and should be evaluated by your doctor.

4. Belching

Everyone experiences gas and belching because your digestive tract produces gas that needs to be eliminated. The breakdown of food in your colon creates this gas.

Unfortunately, the release of digestive gasses can trigger acid reflux, so your belching may be accompanied by other symptoms. Since gas and acid reflux have many of the same causes, lifestyle changes may help.

You may be tempted to relieve your symptoms by belching. This is counterproductive. Swallowing air to belch will stretch your stomach and increase the risk of stomach contents entering your esophagus.

5. Bitter Taste

You may be troubled by a recurring bitter taste in your mouth, with or without heartburn. While dental problems, medications and dehydration can cause a foul taste in your mouth, that bitter taste can also be a symptom of acid reflux. You may experience a bitter taste in your mouth, with or without heartburn.

That bitter taste may indicate that the contents of your stomach have made their way back up into your esophagus and into the back of your throat. In severe cases, acid reflux can cause choking, especially at night. Acid-suppressing medications may alleviate this symptom.

6. Discomfort in the Upper Abdomen

You may also experience pain or discomfort in your upper abdomen. It is common for people with acid reflex to have stomach discomfort (dyspepsia). You may also feel nauseous and feel like your stomach is overly full or bloated.

Your discomfort could be caused by stomach acid backing into your esophagus. The pain may be felt in your stomach, abdomen and chest.

Your pain may, or may not, be accompanied by nausea, belching or regurgitation. Recurring abdominal discomfort should be evaluated by your healthcare professional.

7. Dry Cough

Many people do not correlate their dry cough to digestive issues. Acid reflux is one of the most common causes of a persistent cough. You may experience a chronic cough without any other acid reflux symptoms.

You may suspect that stomach acid is causing your cough if you cough more at night or cough after a heavy meal. If your cough is caused by stomach acid, you may cough more when you are lying down. Suspect an acid-provoked cough if you do not have any other reasons that could explain the problem, such as postnasal drip, smoking or asthma.

If you experience symptoms of acid reflux, some medications and changes in your diet can help. If you are troubled with symptoms more than twice a week, you may want to consult with a healthcare professional.