Acid reflux—also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD—is a condition where stomach acid flows up into your esophagus, and sometimes even into your throat and mouth. The irritating acid can cause many different symptoms, including heartburn and a sour taste. Have you heard about these six commonly overlooked signs?
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) connects your esophagus to your stomach. It's a closure that opens when you swallow food and closes to prevent the contents of your stomach from coming back up. When someone experiences acid reflux, it’s because their LES is not functioning correctly, causing unexpected and sudden regurgitation.
2. Difficulty Swallowing
The lining in your stomach protects it from the hydrochloric acid that breaks down your meals. Your esophagus doesn’t have any lining or protection from the acid, so when it creeps up out of the stomach, it can irritate and inflame your esophagus and throat. The irritation can cause soreness and itchiness, making it painful to swallow.
3. Persistent Cough
If you have GERD, your body may react with coughing in order to help itself. As the acid flows up into the esophagus—and possibly even the throat and lungs—your body encourages you to cough up the substance to remove it from your body.
4. Upset Stomach
An upset stomach is another common sign; this type of discomfort can occur when stomach acid inflames your esophagus. Many different things can cause indigestion, but if you find yourself feeling nauseous only after eating, it might be acid reflux.
5. Feeling of a Lump in the Back of Your Throat
One symptom of GERD you might experience is the feeling that you have something stuck in the back of your throat, otherwise known as a globus sensation. The acid irritates your throat, causing the muscles to either swell or tense up, which can create the feeling of a foreign object lodged in your throat.
6. Tooth Sensitivity
When acid reaches your mouth, it can erode your tooth enamel and cause sensitivity. Damage to enamel is permanent, so if you have concerns, speak with a doctor as soon as possible. Other related side effects include bad breath and gum inflammation.
If you regularly notice any of the above symptoms, fill out our online Heartburn & Acid Reflux Self-Evaluation. You can take this evaluation with you to your appointment with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician. Your doctor can review your symptoms and determine if GERD is a possible cause. They can refer you to a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group specialist at our Heartburn & Acid Reflux Institute, located at St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital.
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