Signs and Symptoms of GERD Are Worth Knowing
Down the esophagus it goes – Each time we eat something, the chewed food travels from our mouth down through the esophagus and into the stomach. Once food travels into the stomach, it is prevented from travelling back up into the esophagus by a small ring of muscle fibers, a one way valve, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES closes once the food reaches the stomach ideally preventing contents from returning. If the lower esophageal sphincter does not close correctly or is weakened, the food mixed with stomach acids and enzymes will often flow back to the esophagus.
There are a couple names for this refluxing of acid and sometimes food, which all mean the same thing: gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD or acid reflux. The acids coming from the stomach are very strong. The stomach is protected from these acids by its strong wall linings, but the esophagus is not. The esophagus is not intended to have acids in it and therefore does not have the same strong lining on its walls as the stomach. Therefore, when acids flow backwards from the stomach, the esophageal walls are irritated or burned (heartburn). If this heartburn continues without being taken care quickly, it will lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which can then lead to Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
The signs and symptoms of GERD need to be quickly identified in order to treat it early enough to prevent significant damage to the lining of the esophagus. The major symptom is the burning sensation you feel in your chest commonly referred to as heartburn. It is often accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth. The burning feeling is from the acid travelling back up the esophagus and simply speaking, eroding it away.
Regurgitation is another sign of GERD, which is marked by the small amounts of liquid or food coming back into the mouth. This liquid is from the refluxed acid, and/or food from the stomach. It comes back up due to a weakened lower esophageal sphincter. An individual experiencing this type of regurgitation might taste a mild sourness in his mouth.
Another quite common symptom of GERD is Dyspepsia which is the feeling associated with stomach discomfort. People with dyspepsia often feel nauseated, bloated, experience upper abdominal pain, and often belch a lot after eating.
Sometimes difficulty in swallowing is also attributed to GERD, as well as wheezing, hiccups, hoarseness or a change in voice or sore throat. Even though these are the less common symptoms, you should take care to have a proper diagnosis by a medical professional as GERD can lead to much more serious conditions.
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