Wednesday, August 9

Understanding the signs of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

GERD is a persistent health issue where the stomach acid reverses direction into the esophagus, the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This usually happens when the muscles meant to stop this reversal do not function correctly.

Usual GERD signs
Heartburn and regurgitation are the two most frequently seen signs of GERD. It's possible to experience both, but some people might only experience one.

Regurgitation refers to the return of stomach contents up your esophagus and into your throat or mouth. This might cause you to taste food or stomach acid.

Heartburn is often described as a severe, painful burning sensation in the upper abdomen or center of the chest, behind the breastbone. It's the most typical sign of GERD and may be felt moving upward from the base of the breastbone towards your throat. Heartburn's intensity can increase when you eat, bend over, or lay down.

Additional GERD signs
Apart from chronic heartburn and regurgitation, other less common signs of GERD might occur. Not all adults suffering from GERD experience heartburn or regurgitation.

These additional signs might include:
- Nausea
- Difficulty or pain while swallowing
- Frequent sour or bitter taste in the mouth
- Persistent cough
- Hoarseness
- Sore throat
- Chest pain or tightness in your chest or upper abdomen that may wake you mid-sleep.

What other health issues can be confused with GERD?
Chest pain similar to heartburn could also be a sign of a heart attack. It's a common symptom for both heartburn and heart disease.

Out of the millions of emergency room visits for chest pain each year, severe heartburn (GERD) is blamed for more than half the cases where actual heart diseases are excluded.

While heartburn is more likely after a big or spicy meal, heart attacks are more common after physical activity or stress. However, if you're unsure, it's always best to seek immediate medical help.

When to consult a doctor about GERD?
If you suspect you have GERD or if your symptoms don't improve with over-the-counter medications or lifestyle modifications, it's important to see a doctor. Early medical intervention can treat the physical cause of GERD and prevent further complications.

Always consult a doctor if you experience symptoms that could point to GERD complications or other serious health issues, such as:

- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
- Continuous vomiting
- Difficulty or pain while swallowing
- Signs of bleeding in the digestive tract, like vomit containing blood or resembling coffee grounds, or stool containing blood or appearing black and tarry.
- Unusual weight loss.
If you believe you're having a heart attack, rush to the emergency room.

About 20% of the US population is affected by GERD. It's more prevalent among older adults, overweight individuals, and pregnant women.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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