Acid reflux occurs when acid and other materials in the stomach back up–reflux–into the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. Acid reflux is associated with several unpleasant symptoms. It should be noted that these acid reflux symptoms do not occur after every meal or even every day. They may even disappear for a few weeks, but they eventually come back. Once acid reflux is diagnosed, it is considered a lifelong condition and should be treated as such. Some of the more common acid reflux symptoms include:
When people think of acid reflux symptoms, most think of heartburn first. Heartburn is an unpleasant burning sensation in the chest. It may occur after a large meal, or when you are lying down trying to rest. Heartburn is caused by stomach acid literally burning the esophagus.
Regurgitation is an acid reflux symptom that occurs when the stomach acid backs all the way into the throat and mouth. It usually causes a bitter taste and a painful, burning sensation in the throat. Some sufferers even report small pieces of food coming back up into the mouth.
A less common symptom of acid reflux is nausea. Acid reflux is often suspected when there is no other obvious cause for nausea.
Dysphagia Or Odynophagia
Dysphagia is a symptom that refers to difficulty swallowing. People feel that the food gets “stuck” somewhere in the esophagus. Odynophagia refers to painful swallowing. The pain can be so intense that some people become afraid of eating. These two symptoms of acid reflux usually occur after the reflux has been going on long enough to damage the esophagus.
Material in the esophagus may be sucked — “aspirated” — into the lungs where it can cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and pneumonia.
Acid refluxed from the stomach into the mouth can irritate the gums and cause tooth decay as well as an unpleasant taste and the feeling of excessive saliva in the mouth.
Finally, acid reflux that has been going on unchecked can eventually cause the cells that line the esophagus to change. These changes are known as Barrett’s Esophagus and will develop into cancer in about 10% of patients. People with Barrett’s Esophagus should undergo periodic exams and should continue to receive aggressive treatment for their acid reflux.