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    Heartburn Symptoms Checklist

    Think you may have nighttime heartburn or GERD? Look for these signs.
    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Venkat Mohan, MD

    One of the problems with chronic heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is that you may not know you have it. Many people aren't completely woken up by GERD symptoms at night. In some cases of GERD, there may be no symptoms at all, even when you're awake. However, there are a number of things you should look for.

    • Waking up to a bitter, acidic taste in your mouth
    • Sharp, burning pain in your chest that can extend up to your neck and throat
    • Fatigue during the day
    • Chronic cough or fits of coughing that wake you up in the night
    • Sore throat, hoarseness, or asthma attacks

    In some cases of GERD, the acid can rise so high in the esophagus that a person can actually breathe it in. This can lead to respiratory problems, such as cough or hoarseness.

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    There was a time when it didn’t take much to set off Sara Perlman-Smith’s heartburn. Spicy foods, alcohol, even a foul mood could send a burning wave rushing up her throat. "I could feel the acid in my esophagus," she recalls. "It was just a consistent burning pain in my chest." Then there was the constant burping. "A lot of times that would make me feel a little better," says Perlman-Smith, 38, a stay-at-home mom in Hallsville, Mo. "But a lot of the time if it was a really bad episode, I’d just...

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    There are other symptoms that experts call "warning signs." Any of them should be checked out right away.

    Keep in mind, the symptoms of heartburn are similar in some ways to the symptoms of heart trouble. If you're experiencing pain that feels different from your usual heartburn, get it checked out immediately. Pain after physical activity -- as opposed to after a spicy meal -- is also a worrisome sign. If you have even the slightest doubt about your chest pain, err on the side of caution. Treat it as a medical emergency and go to the nearest emergency room.

    Reviewed on September 01, 2006

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