There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with reflux. Some people even have reflux with no symptoms at all. Sometimes these symptoms happen suddenly but in many cases they are longstanding and slowly progressive. Some will have symptoms associated to the throat (LPR), some the Airways and lungs (Respiratory), but for many people their symptoms will be confined to the stomach and oesophagus. Some people may just suffer from one symptom such as heartburn Or a cough however for others they may have a multitude of different symptoms and problems. The key question to ask is ‘could my symptoms be a result of reflux or is there potentially another serious or treatable cause’.
Many people describe heartburn as a sharp pain or a tightening sensation or even sometimes burning in the chest behind the breast bone. For many people this is worse at night and when bending over and often the discomfort can move up into the throat and the neck. It can be helped by anti-acid medications.
A weak lower oesophageal sphincter is usually the cause of regurgitation. Patients report a sensation of acid or other stomach contents coming up into the throat or mouth. Sometimes it can leave a bitter or sour taste in the mouth. Patients report regurgitation at its worst following eating and bending over. Patients can sometimes be woken at night with food in their mouth which can often cause panic at the time.
This is a phrase your doctor may use and it describes a variety of symptoms that you may be suffering from. Some examples of these are nausea heartburn burping and feeling full after eating. Dyspepsia has many different causes and is not necessarily specific to reflux.
Whilst a cardiac cause must be ruled out before reflux is recorded as the cause of chest pain, many patients suffer with severe chest pain which they often feel mimics a heart attack. Reflux is one of the most common causes of noncardiac chest pain. Sometimes this can also be related to an oesophageal spasm.
Another term for swallowing difficulties is called dysphagia. Dysphagia can be a symptom associated with reflux. For patients suffering with acid reflux this can cause inflammation of the oesophagus (Oesophagitis).Oesophagitis Is associated with motility problems in the oesophageal muscle or it can cause scarring and narrowing.it is worth noting that there can be serious causes of dysphagia including cancer. Patients who start to experience dysphagia should always be assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.
Burping and reflux are often associated due to many reasons. Due to a weak lower oesophageal sphincter the pressure differential between the oesophagus and the stomach changes which is why burping often occurs after eating. Some patients even learn To subconsciously help their symptoms through ‘supra-gastric belching’. Supra gastric belching is when gas is belched from the oesophagus instead of the stomach.
For some patients, their symptoms are so severe that they lose weight. Usually this is because they avoid eating but sometimes this can be a result of depression. Sometimes weight loss can be secondary to other diseases and should therefore be investigated by a doctor.
Globus is often associated with the sensation of ‘sticking’ in the throat on swallowing, Patients often describe this symptom as a lump in the throat or neck. This is now associated with LPR on the upper oesophageal sphincter.
Bloating is often associated with reflux especially when belching. Many patients describe abdominal discomfort and even gassiness especially after eating. Sometimes bloating is so severe that it can cause swelling of the abdomen.
LPR can cause huskiness and voice weakness. This is a particular problem for singers as it can cause problems reaching certain notes.
LPR Patients often describe a persistent feeling of mucus in their throats and having to clear it often. It can be a very irritating symptom often noticed by patients family and friends.
One of the most common symptoms of reflux is a persistent cough. Patients often report it is worse after eating or when lying down.
Shortness of Breath
It can be common for patients with proven reflux to suffer with asthma, however many patients without asthma report feelings of shortness of breath. In rare situations this can be caused by a large hiatus hernia. A hiatal hernia can cause the stomach to move into the chest and compress the lungs.
Persistent aspiration of stomach contents and acid into the lungs can often cause infection.