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July 20, 2016

Five Subtle Symptoms of Acid Reflux (GERD)

Most people are familiar with acid reflux and have a good idea what the usual symptoms are – upper stomach pain, dysphasia (difficulty swallowing), frequent belching, feeling bloated, hiccups, and nausea are all very common. However, sometimes the symptoms of acid reflux (also known as GERD) can be more subtle than those we hear about from family, friends and all of those TV commercials. When this happens, it’s understandable that patients may not know what they are experiencing and even doubt that acid reflux is responsible. To clear up the confusion that this condition can cause, we’ve provided a list of five of the more subtle symptoms of acid reflux.

It could be acid reflux if you experience any of the following:

Chest Pain

Sudden chest pain may sound scary and cause fear of a heart attack, but it can also be an indication of a gastrointestinal issue - as chest pain is one of the many common symptoms of acid reflux. Chest pain related to acid reflux is referred to as non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP). NCCP may feel like a burning sensation behind the breastbone and cause pain in the upper chest and throat. Do not ignore if chest pain continues or worsens. Seek immediate medical attention if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

Bitter Taste

Experiencing a bitter taste is often not a serious medical condition or cause for concern, however, if it is a reoccurring issue, it’s possible you may have acid reflux. When the esophageal sphincter weakens, it allows stomach acid to rise up into the throat and mouth. The acid can also cause a burning sensation in the chest and throat.

Sore Throat/Losing Your Voice

Symptoms of acid reflux are sometimes similar to that of the common cold. When acid from your stomach moves its way to the esophagus, it may irritate your throat and vocal cords - causing you to cough. If other cold symptoms do not appear, talk to your gastroenterologist about this symptom.

Feeling Worse While Resting

If your symptoms actually start to worsen when you lie down or when you try to fall asleep, it’s very possible that you have acid reflux. This is because the acid that would normally stay in your stomach travels to the esophagus more easily when you are horizontal.

Feeling Worse After a Meal

If you experience pain after a meal, particularly a large meal, it's because the stomach is suddenly overloaded, leaving the contents to move upward into your esophagus and cause that irritation so familiar to acid reflux sufferers. If this is often the case, it's best to eat smaller portions and cut back on fatty foods that could cause additional discomfort.

Acid reflux (GERD) is treatable, but patients are advised to speak with a gastroenterologist to rule out other conditions. Your gastroenterologist may recommend lifestyles changes such as diet modification, medication or weight loss.