Gastroesophageal reflux is the passage of gastric contents into the esophagus. When this reflux of contents causes symptoms or damage to the lining of the esophagus, this is known as GERD. Various factors work together to cause GERD, including the condition of the muscle sphincter at the lower esophagus, presence of a hiatal hernia, the ability of acidic contents to pass through the esophagus, and decreased flow of saliva. GERD can result in typical symptoms, including heartburn or regurgitation (i.e. the reflux of gastric contents into the mouth). However, GERD can cause less common, unusual symptoms that are not typically associated with reflux.
Typically, the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus causes a burning sensation up the chest known as heartburn. This sensation can occasionally become severe and long lasting, mimicking the chest pain associated with a heart attack. It is important that if you experience severe chest pain you contact your doctor to be sure that the pain is from your reflux and not other medical conditions.
Reflux of acid contents into the throat while sleeping can cause choking and ultimately retching fits with attempts at clearing the throat. This can lead to severe burning in the throat, which can last for hours. It is best to avoid late-night meals or going to bed right after