Do you have a burning in your chest that doesn't want to quit? You might have acid reflux. Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can be devastating. While most people find it to be a mild annoyance, others suffer life-ruining symptoms in silence. Some people are so troubled by their symptoms that they go to the emergency room seeking answers. It's sad to say, but they often don't find them.
Even worse, it turns out that GERD doesn't just cause heartburn. It causes many other symptoms that can mimic other conditions. These symptoms are sometimes called silent reflux.
These can pose diagnostic dilemmas for doctors. Silent reflux doesn't just happen to one or two people, either. In fact, large numbers of GERD sufferers endure these symptoms.
GERD can even evolve into other, far more terrifying diseases, like esophageal cancer. This is quite rare, but if untreated, there's a chance it could happen.
Arming yourself with knowledge is the best way to prevent that unfortunate occurrence. You need to know what the symptoms of GERD are. If you don't, you won't visit a doctor when it's necessary. Silent or loud, you need to know the ins and outs of GERD.
A list of the symptoms you need to watch out for follows. If you do think you have GERD, you'll even get some natural remedies that you can try.
The Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Coughing and Wheezing
Acid reflux can cause inflammation all the way up in the throat. That causes coughing, hacking, and wheezing among susceptible patients. Often, it doesn't present with pain. Sometimes, though, a sore throat will accompany this silent reflux symptom.
Acid reflux can cause coughing in another way. The backwash of acid into your throat can increase mucus production. That mucus will trickle down from the back of your nasal cavity into your windpipe. Your body will cough as a defensive mechanism to try and protect your lungs.
That coughing can become a self-fulfilling prophecy even if you later treat your acid reflux. Coughing can inflame your throat. That, in turn, makes you want to cough. It can be a truly terrible cycle.
Acid reflux can be a tough pill to swallow. After eating, patients sometimes report food traveling slowly through their esophagus. Occasionally, it will even feel like the food gets stuck there.
Why does this happen? It's simple: GERD damages the lining of your esophagus. This can cause serious deficiencies in the way your muscles and nerves inside the throat function. In turn, the movement of the food slows to a crawl.
Acid reflux can cause you to salivate more than you normally would. Your brain subconsciously detects the presence of acid near the back of your throat even if you don't. This triggers a reflexive response.
Salivation increases within your mouth to protect your teeth, gums, and tongue. It's a good thing that it does, too! Acid reflux has already been implicated as a cause of tooth decay. Just imagine what would happen if your body wasn't trying to protect you.
Burning in Your Chest
This is the all-too-familiar feeling that many have with acid reflux. It's traditionally called heartburn. Believe it or not, though, many people with GERD don't have this symptom at all.
Among those who do, this is usually the most responsive symptom to treatment. It is often worse when laying down or immediately after a meal.
The best way to avoid suffering from this aggravating symptom is to stay upright for at least three hours before a meal.
Some with acid reflux suffer from a subtler symptom. It's called regurgitation, and it's every bit as gross as it sounds. Undigested food makes its way back up into the back of your throat, which you then swallow again.
It is usually accompanied by belches and hiccups, which can cause big problems for people out in social situations!
Thankfully, this usually relates to improper breathing. Practicing deep breathing exercises by focusing on inhaling from the diaphragm can make a big difference.
A Lump In Your Throat
If you've ever woken up with a lump in your throat, you aren't alone. This sensation is called globus pharyngis, and GERD is one of its many causes. It can also be caused by anxiety or unrelated swelling.
Usually, globus pharyngis feels like a lump that you just can't swallow back down. Trying to wash it down with water is fruitless.
It's important to emphasize that this sensation is just a sensation. There is not actually anything there, and you aren't in any danger of choking.
Why does this happen? There's no good answer. The brain is a powerful and truly mysterious organ. There's no doubt that GERD plays a role.
Sour Taste in Your Mouth
A sour taste in one's mouth can be linked directly to GERD. Stomach acid has a distinctly unpleasant taste that's unmistakable. It usually pops up immediately after waking in the middle of the night. This can trigger coughing fits and keep sufferers awake long into the early hours of the morning.
Ultimately, this symptom is intimately connected to food regurgitation. It tends to happen when the acid in your stomach isn't adequately suppressed, or when you haven't eaten recently. Because there's no food in your stomach, the acid is all that's left to head back up.
There Are Many More Symptoms
These are just a few of the symptoms that acid reflux can bring. GERD plagues many sufferers across the world, and their symptoms vary significantly from person to person.
Thankfully, the story doesn't end here. In addition to traditional medicine, you can try taking a holistic approach to treating GERD. This is becoming increasingly popular all over the world.
These natural remedies don't have any side-effects. They usually involve lifestyle and diet changes. That makes them a great thing to try before you go reaching for the medicine cabinet.
Here's a list of some of the natural remedies you might love using for acid reflux.
Holistic GERD Remedies You Can Try
If you want a healthy fruit that tastes great, you're probably after a banana. They aren't just a nutritious source of potassium, though! They're a great choice for digestive issues in general. They are known to have a calming effect on the stomach and can be useful for treating GERD.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been used in herbal medicine for a very long time. From fighting fungi to soothing nerves, apple cider vinegar seems like it can play a role in a lot of different diseases. It's doubly true for acid reflux. Just be careful not to overdo it. Apple cider vinegar is an acid, after all!
Baking soda is a base, so it makes sense that it would counter acid reflux. Just a small handful of baking soda will help neutralize the acid in your stomach. Just like with apple cider vinegar, though, be careful not to take too much. If you do, you're likely to produce a paradoxical reaction. That means that you'll give yourself heartburn!
To avoid that, try to carefully measure just a teaspoon. Don't use more than that, even if you feel like baking soda isn't treating your condition.
No More Coffee
A great way to prevent acid reflux is to cut back on caffeine, including coffee. Caffeine does more than just keep you awake. In fact, it has dozens of different effects on the body.
It can provoke stomach upset in general, but it can also relax the sphincter, which is basically a valve, between your stomach and your esophagus. That makes it easier for the acid to backwash up into your throat.
Sprinkling a bit of peppermint into a meal or having a nice cup of peppermint tea can radically change the way you experience heartburn. This little herb soothes the inflamed tissue in your esophagus and has a profound calming effect upon your body.
Even better, peppermint has a delicious taste that goes great with all different kinds of recipes. It's safe to say using this herb won't be a big sacrifice!
No Laying Down on the Job
Don't lay down after eating. Give it at least three hours, preferably four, before you go to sleep. The longer you spend in bed, the more likely you are to have breakthrough reflux. Breakthrough reflux fights against whatever you're using to treat it, usually at night.
This doesn't just happen at night. Casual relaxing on your couch needs to wait until three hours after eating, too.
When you do lay down, try to lay down on your left side. This lets gravity work with you to keep your stomach contents where they belong: in your stomach!
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