What are the symptoms of GERD?

The hallmark GERD symptom is heartburn. This symptom of acid reflux involves a burning sensation in the mid-sternum area, thus the name heartburn. Another acid reflux disease symptom is regurgitation. Regurgitation is the spontaneous, effortless reflux of digestive enzymes and gastric contents into the esophagus or mouth. Patients with regurgitation will report an "acidic taste" in their mouth.

Symptoms of acid reflux will often occur after a meal, especially after exercise or lying down. A small group of patients have "upright GERD." In upright GERD, GERD symptoms happen while the patient is upright and is associated with excessive burping and belching.

Difficulty swallowing or "dysphagia" is an acid reflux disease symptom that occurs in up to 30% of GERD patients and may be due to esophageal inflammation, stricture, malignancy, or mechanical dysfunction of the esophagus.

Less common GERD symptoms include water brash (a sudden copious secretion of salty salivary fluid into the mouth) and hiccups.

Patients describe GERD symptoms like this:

  • It feels like I have food caught in my throat.

  • I feel like I am choking

  • My throat feels tight

  • My chest burns and I can't swallow

  • I have a dry cough and my breath is bad

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