GERD Signs & Symptoms

Over a whopping sixty million Americans suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s the disease that Ashlee Simpson famously claimed to have when she was caught on live television using a recorded voice track to “Pieces of Me” during her performance on Saturday Night Live on October 23, 2004. Acid reflux is a disease in which stomach acid regurgitates upwards into the esophagus and causes esophageal damage. Adults, children and babies can experience this common disease and a variety of its associated symptoms. Also known as acid reflux, GERD affects about 35% of the 4 million babies in the United States.

GERD Symptoms in Adults

Adults diagnosed with GERD generally experience its symptoms after eating a meal, upon bending over, when lifting something heavy and when lying on their backs. GERD is usually the most painful in the nighttime. Over 50% of pregnant women suffer from acid reflux and/or heartburn. GERD may present any of the following symptoms in adults:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • Burping
  • Dysphagia (discomfort when swallowing, feeling of food stuck in esophagus)
  • Bad breath
  • Water brash (increased salivation)
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea, particularly after eating
  • Odynophagia (painful swallowing)
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Reflux esophagitis
  • Esophageal strictures
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Chronic coughing
  • Asthma
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating of the stomach
  • Sinusitis
  • Laryngitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Choking feeling

Most often, acid reflux does not cause any medical complications. However, if the damage done to the esophagus leads to esophageal scarring, the esophagus may narrow and cause strictures. The limiting strictures may cause dysphagia, a condition in which a GERD patient may feel like he has food stuck in his esophagus and swallowing may be painful or difficult. If the condition of the esophagus worsens due to the acid irritation from regurgitation, it may develop Barrett’s esophagus and change shape and color. There is a chance of Barrett’s esophagus developing into cancer.

Signs of Acid Reflux in Children

Babies are born with underdeveloped digestive systems. Therefore, it is not uncommon for babies to experience GERD, especially in the first few months of their lives. Most cases of pediatric acid reflux go away on their own by the time children are twelve months old. GERD may present the following symptoms in children:

  • Spitting up
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Burping
  • Coughing
  • Bad breath
  • Severe crying
  • Wheezing
  • Crying for milk or food, then refusing it, then crying for it again
  • Refusing milk or food
  • Failure to gain sufficient weight

Seek Medical Attention

Call your health care professional if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • No relief from acid reflux drugs
  • GERD symptoms more than twice each week
  • Blood in vomit
  • Black, tarry, bloody or dark red stools
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic soar throat
  • Unrelenting nausea
  • Unrelenting hiccups
  • Symptoms of a heart attack

It is not uncommon for people to mistake a heart attack for acid reflux. While it is true that the two medical conditions share mutual symptoms, a heart attack can be fatal and should be attended to as soon as possible. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911:

  • Pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw or left shoulder
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, fullness or pressure that lasts a few minutes or that goes away and recurs
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea
  • Sweating coinciding with chest pain

GERD may be painful, but it doesn’t have to interrupt your life. There are drugs and surgeries that your doctor can prescribe to alleviate your discomfort. Call your health care provider to discuss the best treatment plan for your GERD case today.

Clinical Trial Indications