Acid reflux, or GERD, is a common digestive disorder that lots of people suffer from. The condition occurs when the stomach acid and food contents back up from the stomach to the esophagus. If you frequently experience symptoms such as heartburn, regurgitation, or chest pain, you may be suffering from acid reflux. However, these symptoms can be caused by various other conditions, making it challenging to know whether you need to see a doctor.
Frequent or Constant Heartburn
Heartburn is perhaps one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux and can be really uncomfortable. It usually feels like a burning sensation in the chest that worsens after eating or when lying down. If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you may have acid reflux. While occasional heartburn is normal, frequent episodes of heartburn can damage your esophagus and increase your risk of developing complications such as ulcers or esophageal cancer. Therefore, seeing a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment is essential.
Another sign that you may have acid reflux is difficulty swallowing or a feeling of food sticking in your throat. This condition is known as dysphagia and can be due to the inflammation of the esophagus caused by the irritation from stomach acid. If you experience this symptom, it is crucial to see a doctor since dysphagia can cause severe health complications such as choking, pneumonia, or malnutrition.
A chronic cough that lasts longer than several weeks can be a sign of acid reflux. The cough is usually a dry cough, and it may worsen during the night or after eating. The stomach acid irritation causes the cough reflex, leading to persistent coughing. If you have a persistent and regular cough, your doctor may recommend an endoscopy to determine the cause of the cough and provide the appropriate treatment.
Hoarseness or Sore Throat
Acid reflux can irritate the voice box and cause hoarseness or a sore throat. If you have a chronic hoarse voice or a sore throat that lasts longer than a week, it is essential to seek medical attention since it may be due to severe inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
When the stomach acid irritates the airways, it can trigger your asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. If you have asthma symptoms that worsen during the night or after eating, you may have acid reflux, and it is crucial to seek medical attention.
Acid reflux is a common digestion disorder that affects many people worldwide. While occasional heartburn is normal, frequent episodes of heartburn, difficulty swallowing, persistent cough, hoarseness, and asthma symptoms can be a sign of acid reflux. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention since acid reflux can cause severe health complications such as esophageal ulcers or cancer. For more information on acid reflux, contact a professional near you.