5 Signs You’re Suffering from Acid Reflux
Experiencing some bloating after a big meal is normal, but for some individuals, it may lead to signs of acid reflux, which can be concerning. Acid reflux is caused by the lower esophageal sphincter, a valve that opens to allow food to pass through and closes to prevent stomach acids from damaging the esophagus.
Acid reflux is what happens when the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close all the way, or if there have been too many situations where the stomach acids get through and start to irritate the parts of the body that aren’t built to withstand the acids (such as the esophagus).
The odds of acid reflux increase the more you experience the signs below, so having just a single symptom doesn’t mean you have a huge problem. The only issue arises when you leave something like that unchecked. If that happens too many times, you’ll eventually get hit by an advanced version in the form of acid reflux disease, which we also know as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
One of the most common signs of acid reflux is extremely uncomfortable heartburn which feels like a burning sensation in the chest area. It’s worrying, sure, but don’t fret as it’s not necessarily a terrible symptom especially if you’re willing to make a few lifestyle changes.
Typically, heartburn occurs right after you’ve had foods associated with GERD (fried foods, etc.), and can be problematic when trying to sleep. If this happens too often, there’s a chance that you have GERD.
Another common symptom of acid reflux disease is what’s known as regurgitation, where the esophagus (or the stomach) expels food. The interesting thing about regurgitation is unlike vomiting, you won’t really experience the painful contraction of the stomach and overall nausea that leads to the vomiting of food.
As such, regurgitation is something of a strange sensation for those who’ve never experienced it before. Without any painful contractions, you will just suddenly expel food as you’re eating, and you likely won’t be sure why.
Those who suffer from regurgitation are likely to have acid reflux, as while it’s a relatively uncommon symptom, it’s extremely likely to be GERD.
In the case of general chest pain, you’ll typically feel the after-effects of heartburn in the form of soreness.
The trouble with chest pain is that people can often associate it with more serious conditions, leading to stress and anxiety. The important thing is to figure out contextual clues. The signs of a heart attack can include chest pains, yes, but it also has other symptoms such as the numbing of your left arm, or lightheadedness that sets it apart from typical bouts of chest pain. So it’s a good idea not to panic and figure out if the chest pain is due to acid reflux or maybe something else.
Difficulty swallowing is yet another sign of acid reflux, but it’s a rare symptom. If you’re having difficulty swallowing, consider the other potential culprits. If you’re also experiencing chest pains, it might be a good idea to get medical attention. On the other hand, difficulty swallowing on its own (or with regurgitation) is a sign of GERD.
Keep in mind that even if you might not have other symptoms, you might still want to speak with a doctor to figure out what’s going on, since difficulty swallowing can mean so many things. Difficulty swallowing is a rare symptom, and time could be of the essence.
Chronic cough is yet another symptom of acid reflux—and it’s usually when your throat starts to get more and more irritated. When the stomach acids have caused enough damage to the esophagus that it’s constantly irritated, you could end up with a persistent cough. The reason why it’s called a chronic cough is due to the word chronic, which means long-lasting.
A chronic cough could potentially mean you have other health issues as well (such as pneumonia). A persistent cough can be annoying, but make sure to keep track of how long it’s been! If it takes longer than two weeks, speak with your local physician.
Searching for Signs the Right Way
The signs of acid reflux above should be able to tell you if you’re suffering from GERD, or if you’re just in the beginning stages. After all, GERD only occurs once acid reflux becomes a regular occurrence. Keep in mind that experiencing any one of these signs on their own isn’t necessarily indicative of acid reflux, but if you’re worried, it’s not a bad idea to develop a more proactive approach and have yourself checked.