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Heartburn Or Acid Reflux Symptoms

Severe Symptoms Can Cause Damage

Acid reflux disease (GERD) symptoms and treatments – Heartburn remedies

Ignoring persistent symptoms of GERD can damage the esophagus, since the constant backwash of acid irritates the lining and can cause scar tissue to form over time. That scar sometimes is helpful, tightening up the area so material doesnt come up that easily, but its at the expense of the esophagus not working right, limiting the food thats going down, Ergun says. A normal esophagus is 20 millimeters in diameter, Ergun says, and when it gets to about half its typical diameter, people start to notice food something like bread or meat getting stuck.

GERD can also affect tissue that lines the lower esophagus. Instead of the cells of the esophagus being consistent with the cells of the stomach, they change a condition known as Barretts esophagus, says Nipaporn Pichetshote, M.D., a gastroenterology specialist in Los Angeles affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Thats concerning because there is a risk for progression into esophageal cancer. Though she says the likelihood of this is quite low, it becomes something to watch in people who have reflux disease for 10 years.

Another concern: Acid reflux and cardiac problems can sometimes mimic each other. People will say, Oh, I have indigestion and assume its the esophagus, when it could be the heart, or vice-versa, Ergun says. If youre experiencing chest pain, address it with your doctor to make sure it isnt something other than acid reflux.

How Is Gerd Diagnosed

Usually your provider can tell if you have simple acid reflux by talking with you about your symptoms and medical history. You and your provider can talk about controlling your symptoms through diet and medications.

If these strategies dont help, your provider may ask you to get tested for GERD. Tests for GERD include:

Lifestyle And Diet Recommendations

  • Avoid or significantly reduce: overeating, caffeine , and decaffeinated coffee, chocolate , alcohol, meat, dairy, sugar, glucose, fructose syrup, refined foods, white flour products, white rice, hot spices, antibiotics, refined salt.
  • Drink 3 times a day about 3 glasses of water 1 hour before meals or 2 hours after meals. Try to drink only distilled water. Never drink water or other liquids with meals .
  • If the symptoms are stronger at night, elevate the head of your bed by six to eight inches .
  • Use an acid reflux wedge pillow as it will relieve symptoms by elevating the upper body.
  • Learn to control stress.
  • Fast walking every day.
  • Dont eat within three hours of bedtime.
  • Dont lie down after meals. Light physical activity such as walking is most beneficial after meals.
  • Avoid: Alcohol, carbonated beverages, sugary drinks or energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, and processed foods.
  • Dont overeat. Eat smaller meals to allow foods to properly digest, as large meals and overeating put extra pressure on the sphincter.
  • Eat slowly and chew foods more thoroughly.

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What Causes The Valve To Malfunction

In some people, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes at the wrong time or becomes weakened. This allows stomach contents to escape and travel up the esophagus. This causes burning, irritation, and pain. Surprisingly, not everyone who has acid reflux experiences a burning sensation. Other times, burning in the area of the chest and abdomen is caused by a condition other than reflux. Sometimes chest pain may occur due to a heart attack or other serious conditions. Acid reflux is the main symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease , but GERD is associated with other symptoms like nausea, dry cough, hoarseness, sore throat, trouble swallowing, and a feeling of a lump in the throat. See your doctor if you experience pain, burning, or irritation in your chest or abdomen.

What Are The Symptoms Of Acid Reflux And Oesophagitis

Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD: Symptoms, Causes and ...
  • Heartburn: this is the main symptom. This is a burning feeling which rises from the upper tummy or lower chest up towards the neck.
  • Other common symptoms: these include pain in the upper abdomen and chest, feeling sick, an acid taste in the mouth, bloating, belching, indigestion and a burning pain when you swallow hot drinks. Like heartburn, these symptoms tend to come and go and tend to be worse after a meal.
  • Some uncommon symptoms: these may occur and if they do, can make the diagnosis difficult, as these symptoms can mimic other conditions. For example:
  • A persistent cough, particularly at night, sometimes occurs. This is due to the refluxed acid irritating the windpipe . Asthma symptoms of cough and wheeze can sometimes be due to acid leaking up .
  • Other mouth and throat symptoms sometimes occur, such as gum problems, bad breath, sore throat, hoarseness and a feeling of a lump in the throat.
  • Severe chest pain develops in some cases .

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Elevate The Head Of Your Bed

Some people experience reflux symptoms during the night .

This may disrupt their sleep quality and make it difficult for them to fall asleep.

One study showed that patients who raised the head of their bed had significantly fewer reflux episodes and symptoms, compared to those who slept without any elevation .

Additionally, an analysis of controlled studies concluded that elevating the head of the bed is an effective strategy to reduce acid reflux symptoms and heartburn at night (

Elevating the head of your bed may reduce your reflux symptoms at night.

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Study Links Duration Of Heartburn To Severity Of Esophageal Disease

Esophageal disease may be perceived in many forms, with heartburn being the most common. The severity of heartburn is measured by how long a given episode lasts, how often symptoms occur, and/or their intensity. Since the esophageal lining is sensitive to stomach contents, persistent and prolonged exposure to these contents may cause changes such as inflammation, ulcers, bleeding and scarring with obstruction. A pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus may also occur. Barrett’s esophagus causes severe damage to the lining of the esophagus when the body attempts to protect the esophagus from acid by replacing its normal lining with cells that are similar to the intestinal lining.

Research was conducted to determine whether the duration of heartburn symptoms increases the risk of having esophageal complications. The study found that inflammation in the esophagus not only increased with the duration of reflux symptoms, but that Barrett’s esophagus likewise was more frequently diagnosed in these patients. Those patients with reflux symptoms and a history of inflammation in the past were more likely to have Barrett’s esophagus than those without a history of esophageal inflammation.

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Treatments For Acid Reflux

Your doctor may recommend treating milder forms of acid reflux through a combination of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. If you are diagnosed with GERD, the doctor may write you a prescription to help with the symptoms.

If lifestyle changes and medication fail to provide relief, a physician might recommend that you have surgery for acid reflux. Available surgical options for treating the condition include:

  • Fundoplication– A minimally invasive procedure that involves wrapping the area around your lower esophageal sphincter to tighten that muscle, preventing reflux.
  • LINX device – Your surgeon wraps a ring of small magnetic beads around the place where your stomach and esophagus meet. The magnetized beads’ strength keeps that juncture closed but still allows food to pass to your stomach.

What Are Prescription Medications For Heartburn

Acid Reflux & Heartburn : Early Symptoms of Chronic GERD

If over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers do not relieve your heartburn, your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for other medicines, such as:

  • Prescription-strength acid blockers: In prescription-strength , Zantac®, Tagamet®, Pepcid® and Axid® can generally relieve heartburn and treat GERD.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that block acid production more effectively. Proton pump inhibitors include Aciphex®, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec® and Protonix®.

There are some proton pump inhibitors that can be purchased over-the-counter. Talk to your healthcare provider about these medications and what is best for you.

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What Is Gerd Or Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux is a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates into the esophagus. The liquid can inflame and damage the lining although visible signs of inflammation occur in a minority of patients. The regurgitated liquid usually contains acid and pepsin that are produced by the stomach. The refluxed liquid also may contain bile that has backed-up into the stomach from the duodenum. The first part of the small intestine attached to the stomach. Acid is believed to be the most injurious component of the refluxed liquid. Pepsin and bile also may injure the esophagus, but their role in the production of esophageal inflammation and damage is not as clear as the role of acid.

GERD is a chronic condition. Once it begins, it usually is life-long. If there is an injury to the lining of the esophagus , this also is a chronic condition. Moreover, after the esophagus has healed with treatment and treatment is stopped, the injury will return in most patients within a few months. Once treatment for GERD is begun it will need to be continued indefinitely although. However, some patients with intermittent symptoms and no esophagitis can be treated only during symptomatic periods.

  • slow or prolonged emptying of the stomach.

Lower esophageal sphincter

Hiatal hernia

Esophageal contractions

Emptying of the stomach

  • narcotics,






    Barrett’s esophagus

    Consider Eating Less Chocolate

    GERD patients are sometimes advised to avoid or limit their consumption of chocolate. However, the evidence for this recommendation is weak.

    One small, uncontrolled study showed that consuming 4 ounces of chocolate syrup weakened the lower esophageal sphincter .

    Another controlled study found that drinking a chocolate beverage increased the amount of acid in the esophagus, compared to a placebo .

    Nevertheless, further studies are needed before any strong conclusions can be made about the effects of chocolate on reflux symptoms.


    There is limited evidence that chocolate worsens reflux symptoms. A few studies suggest it might, but more research is needed.

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    Quite Often I Hear My Patients Say That They Dont Understand How I Can Tell Them They Have Acid Reflux Disease Because They Don’t Have A Complaint Of Heartburn In Fact Many Of My Patients Initially Simply Do Not Believe They Have Acid Reflux Disease At All The Symptoms They Do Have When They Come In To See Me Are Some Combination Of Cough Hoarseness Frequent Throat Clearing Excess Phlegm In Their Throat Post Nasal Drip And/or Difficulty Swallowing In Other Words Their Symptoms Are Not About Heartburn Rather They Are About Throat Burn

    Quite often I hear my patients say that they dont understand how I can tell them they have acid reflux disease because they don’t have a complaint of heartburn. In fact, many of my patients initially simply do not believe they have acid reflux disease at all. The symptoms they do have when they come in to see me are some combination of cough , hoarseness , frequent throat clearing , excess phlegm in their throat , post nasal drip and/or difficulty swallowing . In other words, their symptoms are not about heartburn, rather they are about “throat burn.”

    What is even more confusing to my patients is that these throat symptoms are usually treated with antacid medications that are the same as traditional heartburn medications like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Kapidex or Zegerid. Or another class of antacid medications such as Zantac or Pepcid.

    So what’s going on here? Whats going on is that there are 2 related diseases taking place here, GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease and LaryngoPharyngeal Reflux Disease . In both diseases, acid from the stomach is refluxing back up into either the esophagus, attached to the stomach from above, or all the way back into the throat, which sits on top of the esophagus.

    How do we treat this acid induced swelling of the throat? The treatment consists of being careful with the intake of 4 of your favorite food groups: caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and mint. In addition, antacid medications are often used as well.

    Understanding The Oesophagus And Stomach

    12 Natural Ways to Relieve Silent Acid Reflux Symptoms

    When we eat, food passes down the gullet into the stomach. Cells in the lining of the stomach make acid and other chemicals which help to digest food. Stomach cells also make mucus which protects them from damage from the acid. The cells lining the oesophagus are different and have little protection from acid.

    There is a circular band of muscle at the junction between the oesophagus and stomach. This relaxes to allow food down but then normally tightens up and stops food and acid leaking up into the oesophagus. In effect, the sphincter acts like a valve.

    Acid Reflux and Oesophagitis

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    How Is Esophageal Cancer Classified

    Most cancers are grouped by stage, a description of the cancer that aids in planning treatment. The stage of a cancer is based on the location and depth of the tumor the involvement, if any, of the lymph nodes and the degree that the cancer has spread, if at all, to other tissue and organs.

    In addition to staging the cancer, tumors may also be graded. Grading is a way of rating a tumor based on how much its cells look and act like normal cells. Tumor grading can also tell the doctor how fast the tumor is growing. Tumors with almost normal-looking cells that grow slowly are called low-grade tumors. Tumors with very abnormal-looking cells that divide rapidly are called high-grade tumors. High-grade tumors are more likely to spread than low-grade tumors.

    What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux

    Gastroesophageal reflux , also called reflux, is when food and acid from the stomach go back up into the esophagus. This causes an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, often called heartburn.

    With GER, reflux happens after nearly every meal and causes noticeable discomfort. After eating, people with GER feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat.

    While its more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal reflux.

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    Which Heartburn Treatment Is Right For You

    The type of heartburn treatment that is right for you depends on a variety of factors. The frequency and severity of your symptoms are important considerations. Some medications provide relief from current symptoms while other medications are designed to prevent symptoms before they start. If you are unsure of which heartburn treatment to take, have a discussion with your doctor. Your physician can evaluate your condition and take into account any additional medical conditions you have and medications you may be taking and make an appropriate treatment recommendation.

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  • How Is A Hiatal Hernia Treated

    Acid Reflux & Heartburn : Atypical GERD Symptoms

    Most hiatal hernias do not cause problems and rarely need treatment. However, since some patients with a hiatal hernia have symptoms of GERD, treatment starts with methods used to manage GERD. These include making such lifestyle changes as:

    • Quitting smoking.
    • Not wearing a tight belt or tight clothing that can increase the pressure on the abdomen such as control top hosiery and body shapers.
    • Taking medications after eating to reduce acid in the stomach. These over-the-counter medications include antacids, Gaviscon®, or H-blockers .

    Sometimes, a medication called a proton-pump inhibitor might be used to treat hiatal hernia. This medication is another way to decrease the amount of stomach acid you have, which can help prevent reflux. When you take this medication, your body doesnt make as much stomach acid as normal. This is similar to H-blocker medications.

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    Gerd Vs Acid Reflux Vs Heartburn

    GERD is generally considered more serious than acid reflux or heartburn, and requires a diagnosis from a medical professional, such as a gastroenterologist. While everyone may experience heartburn or acid reflux from time to time, GERD may be suspected if you experience reflux more than twice a week.

    • Acid reflux is a common condition where you can experience heartburn and regurgitation . When acid reflux happens frequently, it may progress to GERD.
    • GERD is a chronic, more severe form of acid reflux. Symptoms are the same as acid reflux, but they happen more frequently with GERD.
    • Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest or abdomen, and is the most common symptom of acid reflux and GERD.

    Antacids For Heartburn Relief

    Antacids are medications that neutralize stomach acid. They are one type of over-the-counter treatment to alleviate the burning feeling. Rolaids, Maalox, and Mylanta are a few kinds of OTC antacids. Antacids are a good option if you have occasional heartburn and mild symptoms and discomfort. Take these medications as directed and do not exceed the recommended dose. Do not overuse antacids or take more than is directed on the label as this may result in side effects including constipation or diarrhea. If you suffer from severe heartburn or longstanding heartburn, antacids may not be the appropriate treatment choice.

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    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    If you experience frequent and/or severe heartburn, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If you’re taking over-the-counter medication for heartburn like Prevacid or Prilosec more than twice a week, you should also talk to your healthcare provider.

    GERD Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

    Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

    What Are The Main Symptoms Of Gerd

    Symptoms of Acid Reflux

    The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat, or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.

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