Lots of people are intimately familiar with acid reflux symptoms. More than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once a month. Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can produce a variety of symptoms.
Heartburn, regurgitation, and dyspepsia are a few of the most common acid reflux symptoms.
Heartburn. Also called acid indigestion, heartburn is a burning pain or discomfort that can move up from your stomach to the middle of your abdomen and chest. The pain can also move into your throat. Despite its name, heartburn doesn't affect your heart.
Regurgitation. Another common symptom of acid reflux is regurgitation -- or the sensation of acid backing up into your throat or mouth. Regurgitation can produce a sour or bitter taste, and you may experience a "wet burp" or even vomit some contents of your stomach.
Dyspepsia. Many people with acid reflux disease also have a syndrome called dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is a general term for stomach discomfort. Symptoms of dyspepsia include:
Symptoms of acid reflux may be a sign that stomach acid has inflamed your esophagus. When that happens, stomach acid can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause bleeding.
Although acid reflux is extremely common and rarely serious, don't ignore your acid reflux symptoms. Making a few lifestyle changes and using over-the-counter antacids usually are all you need to control acid reflux symptoms.
When Do Acid Reflux Symptoms Occur?
Acid reflux symptoms most often occur:
After eating a heavy meal
When bending over or lifting an object
When lying down, especially on your back
People who have frequent acid reflux symptoms most often experience them at night. Nighttime GERD also produces the most pain. However, the level of pain does not always indicate the degree of damage to your esophagus.
More than half of all pregnant women experience heartburn during pregnancy. Increased hormones and pressure from a growing fetus can combine to produce this acid reflux symptom. In most cases, heartburn goes away after delivery.
What Makes Acid Reflux Symptoms Worse?
Certain foods can make the symptoms of acid reflux worse. To lessen your symptoms, try avoiding:
Caffeinated drinks or alcohol
Spicy, fatty, or fried foods
Garlic and onions
Are There Potential Complications With Acid Reflux Symptoms?
Usually, acid reflux symptoms cause no complications. In a few cases, continued esophageal damage can lead to scarring, which may cause the esophagus to narrow. The narrowing creates strictures and makes it difficult to swallow. You may have dysphagia, a sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus. In some cases, cells in the lining of the esophagus develop an abnormal shape and color in response to the constant acid irritation. This is Barrett's esophagus, which can develop into cancer.