What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Gerd
Often, people who have GERD notice that they regularly have the pain of heartburn in the chest or stomach. This can last up to a couple of hours. Many notice their heartburn is worse after eating.
Regurgitation when food and liquid containing stomach acid comes back up into the throat or mouth is also a sign of GERD. But, like heartburn, occasional regurgitation is common for everyone.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- a sore, raw throat or hoarse voice
- a frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down
- a feeling of burping acid into the mouth
- trouble swallowing
- bad breath
Your Heartburn Feels More Severe Than Usual
Almost everyone has heartburn from time to time, but if you have a particularly severe episode of it, you should bypass making a doctor’s appointment and head straight for the hospital. The chest pain that comes with heartburn is often very similar to a heart attack, so don’t write off a persistent or acute ache as heartburn. A heart attack is usually differentiated from heartburn by shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness, but when in doubt, head to the hospital.
Complicating the matter, certain medications taken by those with cardiac issues often bring on acid reflux or heartburn. Calcium channel blockers, which decrease blood pressure, and nitrates, used for coronary artery disease, can cause acid reflux. If you suspect that a heart medication is bringing on heartburn or acid reflux, speak to your doctor before making any changes to your meds or diet.
How What And When
Watch how you eat: Dont inhale giant mouthfuls of food. Take smaller bites and eat slowly, allowing your stomach time to digest and without giving it an excuse to pump out excess acid.
Watch what you eat: Youre probably aware that specific foods trigger heartburn, usually foods high in acid or spicy foods. Avoid these as best you can to ward off
Watch when you eat: Dont eat within 3-4 hours before bed. Lying down puts more pressure on your LES and increases the likelihood of acid sneaking through.
Don’t Miss: Will Milk Of Magnesia Help Heartburn
Why You Should Never Ignore Gerd
After several years, untreated GERD erodes the lining of the esophagus, and as a protective mechanism, the esophagus starts to create a new lining with cells that resemble the makeup of the intestine. At this stage, GERD has progressed into a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, bringing with it a 30-fold increased risk of eventually developing esophageal cancer.
Esophageal cancer is deadly — only about 15% of people are still alive five years after being diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. And it’s more common among individuals who have long suffered from GERD that is not properly treated.
According to a study published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine, cancer of the esophagus was nearly eight times as likely among people who suffered from heartburn at least once a week, and almost 44 times as likely in those who had severe, frequent heartburn for more than 20 years. Almost all of these people had only sporadic treatment for GERD, not long-term treatment.
If you have GERD, and you are having any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away:
- If difficulty swallowing or a feeling like food is trapped behind the breastbone becomes a new symptom of your GERD.
- If you vomit blood or have black, tarry bowel movements.
- If you have the sensation of acid reflux into the windpipe causing shortness of breath, coughing, or hoarseness.
- If you lose weight unexpectedly or without trying.
Rare Symptoms Of Acid Reflux: When You Should Be Worried
Acid reflux may be a common gastrointestinal problem, but it turns out its symptoms are not always that common. From headaches to nerve pain, there are uncommon acid reflux symptoms that can cause alarm and panic to patients.
So, what are rare acid reflux symptoms? Headaches, dizziness, asthma symptoms, and nerve pain are among those considered to be uncommon but safe acid reflux symptoms. On the other hand, fever and intense pain accompanied by left arm pain are just two examples of potential medical emergencies for reflux patients.
Read on to learn more about the lesser known acid reflux symptoms, and whether or not they pose a health risk.
Don’t Miss: Best Foods To Cure Heartburn
Heartburn & Indigestion: When To Seek Emergency Medical Attention
Acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion are all terms used to describe that GI discomfort that everyone gets from time to time. A bout of acid reflux usually occurs after a big meal, eating too close to laying down for bed, or after eating or drinking something that does not settle right.
While uncomfortable, most of the time it is something temporary that can be managed at home with over-the-counter antacids or other medication. However, there are certain symptoms that can either accompany or be mistaken for acid reflux that require immediate medical care.
Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.
When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
Don’t Miss: What Helps Heartburn When Pregnant
Smoking + Alcohol = Heart On Fire
Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can set you up for terrible reflux. The nicotine and alcohol both work to weaken your LES, making it that much easier for stomach contents and acid to splash up into your esophagus. Alcohol is also going to irritate your stomach in general. The solution? Quit smoking, and drink less Doing both will improve your health overall, in addition to relieving acid reflux.
What Else Should I Know
Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce or even stop uncomfortable GERD symptoms. Untreated GERD can cause permanent damage to the esophagus.
You’ll probably find that one of the simplest ways to make living with GERD easier is to avoid the things that trigger your symptoms. Some people will have to limit certain foods others may have to give them up entirely. It all depends on your symptoms.
It can be hard to give up sodas or favorite foods at first. But after a while, lots of people discover that they feel so much better that they don’t miss the problem foods as much as they thought they would.
Read Also: Is Garlic Good For Heartburn
How Long Heartburn Lasts
Heartburn can last anywhere from several minutes to a few hours, depending on the underlying cause.
For example, after eating a spicy meal, mild heartburn can last for as long as it takes to digest the food but the symptoms may reoccur a few hours after youve eaten, when you lie down in bed at night or when bending over.
Bending over allows gravity to help pull the acid from the stomach, potentiating the severity of heartburn symptoms. The symptoms often awaken a person during the night, while sleeping.
Occasional heartburn goes away on its own and can often be prevented by avoiding certain foods . But when heartburn is severe, it usually requires medical treatment.
Gerd Diet: Foods That Help With Acid Reflux
Getting a case of acid reflux once in a while isn’t unusual, but some people suffer from burning discomfort, bloating and belching almost every time they eat. About 20% of the population has gastroesophageal reflux disease , a chronic acid reflux condition that’s diagnosed by a doctor.
Normally, the esophageal sphincter protects the esophagus from stomach acid. However, if the sphincter relaxes, food can push upward through the loosened opening and cause acid reflux.
“Diet plays a major role in controlling acid reflux symptoms and is the first line of therapy used for people with GERD,” says Ekta Gupta, M.B.B.S., M.D., gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Recommended Reading: Ways To Help Heartburn During Pregnancy
What Are Prescription Medications For Heartburn
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.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is when someone has reflux more than twice a week. It’s a more serious condition than GER. Doctors usually treat it with medicine.
GERD can be a problem if it’s not treated because, over time, the reflux of stomach acid damages the tissue lining the esophagus, causing inflammation and pain. In adults, long-lasting, untreated GERD can lead to permanent damage of the esophagus.
Recommended Reading: Heartburn Only When Lying Down
Heartburn Or Heart Attack
Symptoms of severe heartburn and those of a heart attack can often overlap, but you can usually tell you have heartburn if you experience a burning sensation in your upper abdomen and chest, accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth. The most common and similar symptom of heartburn and a heart attack is the chest pain or discomfort. Other symptoms that may be a more likely indication of heart attack are listed below:
- Cold sweat
- Sudden lightheadedness
- Pressure or pain in your chest, arms, neck, jaw or back
With heartburn, you may feel like food is coming up into your mouth. Its a different sensation than vomiting, but severe heartburn can also cause you to vomit. If youre not sure if youre experiencing heartburn or a heart attack, seek immediate medical care.
A Digestive Problem That Affects Roughly 18 Percent Of The Us Population
More than 60 million people in the United States experience heartburn at least once a month, according to the American College of Gastroenterology .
The group also notes that according to some studies, over 15 million Americans have heartburn symptoms every single day.
Heartburn is more common in older people and pregnant women.
In fact, between 17 and 45 percent of pregnant women report episodes of heartburn, according to a study published in September 2015 in the journal BMJ Clinical Evidence.
Harvard Medical School notes that according to one survey, 65 percent of people with heartburn experience symptoms both during the day and at night.
Among those who report nighttime symptoms, 75 percent experience trouble sleeping as a result, and 40 percent say that it affects their job performance the next day.
While both occasional and frequent heartburn commonly cause discomfort, only about 6 percent of the population has heartburn that causes ongoing functional problems, according to the ACG.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
If You’ve Been Taking Medications For A Long Time
Occasional heartburn is often relieved with a simple antacid. However, if you’ve been devouring antacids for weeks and not seeing results, then see a doctor. You may require a stronger prescription medication.
Prescription medications for heartburn aren’t meant to be lifetime drugs, but many people treat them as such. Obviously, it’s difficult to stop taking something that relieves possible pain. While heartburn medications are generally safe, doctors do warn that there are some long-term side effects that are cause for concern. Because the drugs decrease your gastric acid, your body absorbs far less calcium from your diet than normal. As a result, you could be at a higher risk for experiencing a bone fracture or osteoporosis. While the benefits of staying on the drugs outweigh the risks for frequent heartburn sufferers, those who suffer from heartburn only infrequently should eventually taper off their use.
If severe heartburn occurs in a relatively young person, who faces a lifetime of taking prescription medications, doctors may consider surgery in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the esophageal sphincter to strengthen it. Surgery is not recommended for everyone due to its invasive nature and due to studies that show that it might not be a permanent fix .
How Is Heartburn Treated
In most cases, heartburn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.
Over-the-counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and acid blockers.
Read Also: Is Peanut Butter Good For Heartburn
What Are Gerd Symptoms
Obviously, heartburn is the main symptom, and its generally worse at night. Not sure if you have GERD? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my heartburn make it difficult to sleep?
- Do I have swallowing problems?
- Do I sometimes spit up food or sour liquid?
- Do I feel a lump in my throat?
- Have I had a chronic cough or laryngitis with my heartburn?
- Do I have chest pain?
Wed like to take a minute to elaborate on one of those symptoms: chest pain. You should always seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if its accompanied by jaw pain, shortness of breath or arm pain. These could be signs of a heart attack.
Tips To Keep Heartburn On The Backburner
To prevent occasional bouts of heartburn, try taking the following five steps:
1. Avoid eating within three hours of the time you go to bed.
2. Take any acid suppressant medication, such as a proton pump inhibitor, first thing in the morning. “Because of the way proton pump inhibitor-type medications activate, it’s not helpful to take these medications at night on an empty stomach,” says Brown.
3. Sleep on a slight incline, with your head elevated, and/or sleep on your left side. If you have chronic heartburn, falling asleep in the wrong position enables acid to sneak into the esophagus. Keeping your head raised slightly keeps that from happening. Studies have also found that while sleeping on the right side actually aggravates heartburn, flipping over to your left side is likely to calm it, although the reason why is unknown.
4. Avoid foods that may cause acid reflux, such as peppermint, coffee and chocolate. “Interestingly, spicy foods haven’t been shown to cause heartburn,” says Brown. “And there’s some evidence that spicy foods may actually protect the body from ulcers.”
5. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, quit. Not only does smoking relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to move up into the esophagus where it doesn’t belong, but it also can slow the production of saliva, which protects against acid in the esophagus.
Read Also: Baking Soda For Heartburn Side Effects
Severe Heartburn It May Be Gerd
Heartburn may seem like an irritation, but it can lead to serious health complications — if left untreated.
You thought you have a simple case of heartburn, but lately, after adding a few inches to your waistline, it’s more than that: a frequent feeling of pain under your breastbone the faint taste of acid on the back of your tongue trouble sleeping a few times a week and problems swallowing.
It happens when you eat too much, when you doze on the couch after dinner, and when you have too many drinks during cocktail hour. Chowing down a few slices of pepperoni pizza doesn’t seem to be a problem, but tacos almost guarantee a night of chest pain and tossing and turning. For other people, the reverse could be true, or the problem could come from other foods.
What’s going on? Your occasional bout of heartburn has now become one part of a larger problem — GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
“Everybody has a little bit of heartburn,” says Joel Richter, MD, a gastroenterologist and chairman of medicine at Temple University. “But GERD is when it becomes chronic, occurring two or three times a week or more when it’s interfering with your lifestyle so that you’re avoiding eating various foods when you’re not exercising because you get heartburn and when it’s interfering with sleep and when swallowing.”
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 it’s more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal reflux.
Also Check: Why Am I Having Heartburn Every Night
Home Remedies For Heartburn
Home remedies are many but remember 2 thumb rules: Eating less and avoiding high-fat foods & maintaining a healthy lifestyle filled with physical activity & devoid of smoking & drinking. Other home remedies include.
- Eating vegetables low in fat & high in fiber.
- Intake of ginger
- Having oatmeal for breakfast as it is complete and high in fiber
- Eating more of non-citrus fruits
- Seafood & lean meat
- Egg whites, lean meats, and healthy fats
Before you sum up there are 2 more things you should know as these 2 are most confused
- Heartburn vs. acid reflux
- Heartburn vs. nausea.
In the first case, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and both are not the same while in the later both are the symptoms of indigestion, and nausea can be the result of heartburn.
Well, this is what heartburn is and a detailed answer to can heartburn last for days?
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.