October 5, 2011
Esophageal Reflux Symptoms
Esophageal reflux, also known as GERD, is a common medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The symptoms of esophageal reflux vary, but the most common symptoms include heartburn, indigestion, regurgitation, or dysphagia (trouble swallowing). The heartburn is sometimes confused with a heart attack because the pain is located in the epigastic and chest area. However, unlike a heart attack, heartburn feels more like a gradual burn and irritating feeling, while a heart attack is more of a crushing, smothering feeling. The indigestion that comes with esophageal reflux typically comes after a meal, especially a large or heavy one, and leaves an unpleasant feeling inside the esophagus and abdomen. Regurgitation, or the expulsion of food from the mouth, is also common. However, this should not be associated with vomiting. Whereas vomiting is a forceful expulsion of food, the regurgitation from esophageal reflux may be tiny bits of food or hardened bits of white smelly material that can be quickly swallowed back in, leaving a bitter aftertaste. The dysphagia that comes with esophageal reflux is due to stomach acid irritating the esophagus. Sometimes, dysphagia is also a serious sign of complications of esophageal reflux that must be handled immediately.
Other symptoms seen with esophageal reflux include nausea, vomiting, odynophagia (pain with swallowing), and water brash. Water brash is the sour taste in the back of the mouth after a burp or a bout of heartburn that causes increased salivation and acid refluxing into the oropharynx. The sour taste comes from the stomach acid brought upwards. The nausea and vomiting come from irritation of the upper gastrointestinal tract from stomach acid. If the acid reflux is severe enough, it can Some less obvious symptoms tied to esophageal reflux include chronic cough, continual throat clearing, hoarseness, asthma (from acid damaging the lining of the bronchial airways), and erosion of dental enamel. All of these symptoms are secondary to damage from stomach acid. If these symptoms are present, immediate medical attention is warranted.
More serious but rarer symptoms that can be caused by esophageal reflux include cancer-mimicking symptoms such as lack of hunger, wasting away, dysphagia, and dark tarry stools. Usually these symptoms occur after years of untreated esophageal reflux. These symptoms indicate that the esophageal reflux has damaged the upper gastrointestinal tract enough to cause cancer. The continual cycle of stomach acid damaging the esophageal linings and the cells healing themselves can trigger dysplasia in cells later in life and eventually cause cancer.
These symptoms can be treated initially without medical management. Simple lifestyle changes such as sleeping with the upper half of the bed elevated, eating smaller meals, avoiding acidic and heavy foods, and losing weight can provide relief of these symptoms. In addition, cessation of smoking also helps relieve these symptoms. If such lifestyle changes do not help much, medications may be needed to help manage esophageal reflux. Luckily, there are many medications on the market now that can be used to treat esophageal reflux. Some can be obtained over the counter while others require a physician’s prescription. For more information on the causes and cures for esophageal reflux be sure to visit Reflux Remedy at refluxremedy.com today!