Doctor for acid reflux

If you have any of the following heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (also called acid reflux or GERD) symptoms or conditions, contact your doctor.

  • Your heartburn symptoms have become more severe or frequent
  • You are having difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing, especially with solid foods or pills
  • Your heartburn is causing you to have nausea or vomiting (especially if you are vomiting blood or black material)
  • You’ve experienced a drastic or unexplained weight loss accompanied by heartburn
  • You have a chronic cough, choking sensation or sense of a lump in your throat.
  • You have been using over-the-counter antacid medications for more than two weeks (or for a longer period than recommended on the label), and you still have heartburn symptoms
  • You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription or nonprescription medications
  • You have chronic hoarseness or wheezing, or your asthma has worsened
  • Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities
  • You are having chest pain accompanied by pain in the neck, jaw, arms, or legs; shortness of breath, weakness, irregular pulse, or sweating
  • You have extreme stomach pain
  • You are experiencing diarrhea or black or bloody bowel movements

When Should You See Your Doctor About Heartburn Symptoms?

Everyday Health: When should you see your doctor about your heartburn symptoms?

Kenneth Brown, MD: You should see your doctor immediately if you have any trouble swallowing, chest pain, hoarseness, or any other atypical symptom. Anyone with reflux-like symptoms over a period of years is at risk for esophageal cancer and should also see a physician. Finally, if the symptoms persist after trying a two-week course of over-the-counter medications, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

Andrew Sable, MD, and Seth Rosen, MD: Heartburn symptoms that occur occasionally – fewer than two times per week – and easily respond to over-the-counter acid reducers rarely suggest a serious condition. If symptoms are more frequent or more severe, if they consistently wake you up at night, or if you develop difficulty swallowing, then you should seek medical evaluation. These symptoms could represent complications from acid reflux and GERD such as Barrett’s esophagus or a stricture (narrowing) in the esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus can increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

Lisa Ganjhu, DO: You should see your doctor when symptoms of heartburn are not controlled with modifications in lifestyle and over-the-counter medicines are needed two or more times a week; you should also contact your doctor if your symptoms remain unresolved on the medication you are taking. When GERD or heartburn is not treated, serious complications can occur, such as severe chest pain that can mimic a heart attack, esophageal stricture (a narrowing or obstruction of the esophagus), bleeding, a pre-malignant change in the lining of the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus, or esophageal cancer. Some symptoms suggest that serious damage may have already occurred, like dysphagia, which is the medical term for difficulty swallowing or a feeling of food trapped behind the breastbone. There can be bleeding from an esophageal ulcer. This can present as vomiting blood or having tarry, black bowel movements. You can have a sensation of acid refluxed into the windpipe that causes shortness of breath, coughing, choking, or hoarseness of the voice. Weight loss can develop, which may be a result of eating less due to the symptoms or development of esophageal cancer.

Elisa Faybush, MD: If you have any of the following heartburn symptoms or conditions, contact your doctor:

  • Your heartburn symptoms have become more frequent or severe.
  • You have difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • You have had a drastic weight loss.
  • You have been using over-the-counter antacid medicines for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
  • Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
  • You are experiencing black or bloody bowel movements.

Jo Ann Hattner, MPH, RD: If you are experiencing heartburn more than two times a week, it is appropriate for you to seek medical attention. Although occasional heartburn is common, persistent heartburn or acid reflux can damage the esophagus, the tube that allows the food you ingest to travel to the stomach. The esophagus is lined with a soft tissue and can be damaged by consistent acid exposure.

When You Visit Your Doctor – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Questions to Discuss with Your Doctor:

  • Do you get a burning sensation in your chest or throat after eating?
  • Do you ever have a bitter or sour taste in your mouth?
  • Do you ever have bloating or nausea after you eat?
  • How often do you get these symptoms?
  • What do you do to relieve the symptoms?
  • Are the symptoms related to physical exertion?
  • Are the symptoms worse when you are lying down or sitting up?
  • Have you noticed any black stools?
  • Do you have a persistent cough?
  • Do you have a history of ulcer disease?
  • Are you taking any medications, especially ones that can irritate the esophagus or stomach, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or tetracycline?
  • Do you drink alcohol or smoke?
  • How soon after you eat at night do you go to bed?
  • Have you tried any over-the-counter medications? If so, do they help?

Your Doctor Might Examine the Following Body Structures or Functions:

  • Chest and lung exam
  • Abdominal exam

Your Doctor Might Order the Following Lab Tests or Studies:

  • Upper endoscopy (internal examination of the esophagus and stomach)
  • pH probe (to assess the acid level in the esophagus and stomach)
  • Manometry (to measure the pressure of the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach)
  • Stool testing for blood
  • Complete blood cell count

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach

When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn.The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion.

Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

Anyone, including infants, children, and pregnant women, can have GERD.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, sore throat, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.

What causes GERD?

No one knows why people get GERD. A hiatal hernia may contribute. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps the LES keep acid from coming up into the esophagus. When a hiatal hernia is present, it is easier for the acid to come up. In this way, a hiatal hernia can predispose to reflux.

Other factors that may contribute to GERD include:

  • alcohol use
  • excess weight
  • pregnancy
  • smoking

Also, certain foods can be associated with reflux events, including:

  • citrus fruits
  • chocolate
  • drinks with caffeine
  • fatty and fried foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint flavorings
  • spicy foods
  • tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, chili, and pizza

Modifying your diet to reduce or eliminate these items can greatly reduce GERD symptoms.

How is GERD treated?

If you have had heartburn or any of the other symptoms for a while, you should see your doctor. You may want to visit an internist (a doctor who specializes in internal medicine) or a gastroenterologist (a doctor who treats diseases of the stomach and intestines). Depending on how severe your GERD is, treatment may involve one or more of the following lifestyle changes and medications or surgery.

Lifestyle Changes

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Lose weight if needed.
  • Eat small meals.
  • Change your diet to eliminate those foods and beverages which aggravate GERD.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid lying down for 3 hours after a meal.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting blocks of wood under the bedposts Ð just using extra pillows will not help.

Medications

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter antacids, which you can buy without a prescription, or medications that stop acid production, or others which help the muscles that empty your stomach.

Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids, and Riopan, are usually the first drugs recommended to relieve heartburn and other mild GERD symptoms. Many brands on the market use different combinations of three basic salts magnesium, calcium, and aluminum – with hydroxide or bicarbonate ions to neutralize the acid in your stomach. Antacids, however, have side effects. Magnesium salt can lead to diarrhea, and aluminum salts can cause constipation. Aluminum and magnesium salts are often combined in a single product to balance these effects.

Calcium carbonate antacids, such as Tums, Titralac, and Alka-2, can also be a supplemental source of calcium. They can cause constipation as well.

Foaming agents, such as Gaviscon, work by covering your stomach contents with foam to prevent reflux. These drugs may help those who have no damage to the esophagus. They can also minimize excess belching.

H2 blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR), and ranitidine (Zantac 75), impede acid production. They are available in prescription strength and over the counter. These drugs provide short-term relief, but over-the-counter H2 blockers should not be used for more than a few weeks at a time without physician supervision. They are effective for about half of those who have GERD symptoms. We strongly recommend that you consult with a physician before using these on a long-term basis.

  • Proton pump inhibitors include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and esomeprazole (Nexium), which are all available by prescription and many are generic. Prilosec OTC and Prevacid is now available over-the-counter. Proton pump inhibitors are more effective than H2 blockers and can relieve symptoms in almost everyone who has GERD. Both these medications are taken 30-60 minutes before eating. Again, since persistent heartburn symptoms can indicate a number of more serious conditions, we strongly recommend discussing this medication with your physician before choosing to take it for an extended period of time.

Another group of drugs, prokinetics, helps strengthen the sphincter and makes the stomach empty faster. This group includes bethanechol (Urecholine) and metoclopramide (Reglan). Metoclopramide also improves muscle action in the digestive tract, but these drugs have frequent side effects that limit their usefulness.

Because drugs work in different ways, combinations of drugs may help control symptoms. Your doctor is the best source of information on how to use medications for GERD.

What if symptoms persist?
If your heartburn does not improve with lifestyle changes or drugs, you may need additional tests.

  • A barium swallow radiograph uses x-rays to help spot abnormalities such as a hiatal hernia and severe inflammation of the esophagus. With this test, you drink a solution and then x-rays are taken. Mild irritation will not appear on this test, although narrowing of the esophagus called stricture – ulcers, hiatal hernia, and other problems will. This test is rarely used these days.
  • Upper endoscopy is more accurate than a barium swallow radiograph and may be performed in a hospital or a doctor’s office. The doctor will spray your throat to numb it and slide down a thin, flexible plastic tube called an endoscope. A tiny camera in the endoscope allows the doctor to see the surface of the esophagus and to search for abnormalities. If you have had moderate to severe symptoms and this procedure reveals injury to the esophagus, usually no other tests are needed to confirm GERD.
    The doctor may use tiny tweezers (forceps) in the endoscope to remove a small piece of tissue for biopsy. A biopsy viewed under a microscope can reveal damage caused by acid reflux and rule out other problems if no infecting organisms or abnormal growths are found.
  • In an ambulatory pH monitoring examination, the doctor puts a tiny tube into the esophagus that will stay there for 24 hours. While you go about your normal activities, it measures when and how much acid comes up into your esophagus. This test is useful in people with GERD symptoms but no esophageal damage. The procedure is also helpful in detecting whether respiratory symptoms, including wheezing and coughing, are triggered by reflux. A wireless version of this test is also available to detect acid reflux over a 48 hour period (Bravo testing).

SurgeryGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach. The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach

When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn.The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion.

Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems.

Anyone, including infants, children, and pregnant women, can have GERD.

What are the symptoms of GERD?

The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, sore throat, hoarseness in the morning, or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.

What causes GERD?

No one knows why people get GERD. A hiatal hernia may contribute. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, the muscle wall that separates the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps the LES keep acid from coming up into the esophagus. When a hiatal hernia is present, it is easier for the acid to come up. In this way, a hiatal hernia can predispose to reflux.

Other factors that may contribute to GERD include:

  • alcohol use
  • excess weight
  • pregnancy
  • smoking

Also, certain foods can be associated with reflux events, including:

  • citrus fruits
  • chocolate
  • drinks with caffeine
  • fatty and fried foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint flavorings
  • spicy foods
  • tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, chili, and pizza

Modifying your diet to reduce or eliminate these items can greatly reduce GERD symptoms.

How is GERD treated?

If you have had heartburn or any of the other symptoms for a while, you should see your doctor. You may want to visit an internist (a doctor who specializes in internal medicine) or a gastroenterologist (a doctor who treats diseases of the stomach and intestines). Depending on how severe your GERD is, treatment may involve one or more of the following lifestyle changes and medications or surgery.

Lifestyle Changes

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Lose weight if needed.
  • Eat small meals.
  • Change your diet to eliminate those foods and beverages which aggravate GERD.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid lying down for 3 hours after a meal.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting blocks of wood under the bedposts Ð just using extra pillows will not help.

Medications

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter antacids, which you can buy without a prescription, or medications that stop acid production, or others which help the muscles that empty your stomach.

Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids, and Riopan, are usually the first drugs recommended to relieve heartburn and other mild GERD symptoms. Many brands on the market use different combinations of three basic salts magnesium, calcium, and aluminum – with hydroxide or bicarbonate ions to neutralize the acid in your stomach. Antacids, however, have side effects. Magnesium salt can lead to diarrhea, and aluminum salts can cause constipation. Aluminum and magnesium salts are often combined in a single product to balance these effects.

Calcium carbonate antacids, such as Tums, Titralac, and Alka-2, can also be a supplemental source of calcium. They can cause constipation as well.

Foaming agents, such as Gaviscon, work by covering your stomach contents with foam to prevent reflux. These drugs may help those who have no damage to the esophagus. They can also minimize excess belching.

H2 blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR), and ranitidine (Zantac 75), impede acid production. They are available in prescription strength and over the counter. These drugs provide short-term relief, but over-the-counter H2 blockers should not be used for more than a few weeks at a time without physician supervision. They are effective for about half of those who have GERD symptoms. We strongly recommend that you consult with a physician before using these on a long-term basis.

  • Proton pump inhibitors include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and esomeprazole (Nexium), which are all available by prescription and many are generic. Prilosec OTC and Prevacid is now available over-the-counter. Proton pump inhibitors are more effective than H2 blockers and can relieve symptoms in almost everyone who has GERD. Both these medications are taken 30-60 minutes before eating. Again, since persistent heartburn symptoms can indicate a number of more serious conditions, we strongly recommend discussing this medication with your physician before choosing to take it for an extended period of time.

Another group of drugs, prokinetics, helps strengthen the sphincter and makes the stomach empty faster. This group includes bethanechol (Urecholine) and metoclopramide (Reglan). Metoclopramide also improves muscle action in the digestive tract, but these drugs have frequent side effects that limit their usefulness.

Because drugs work in different ways, combinations of drugs may help control symptoms. Your doctor is the best source of information on how to use medications for GERD.

What if symptoms persist?
If your heartburn does not improve with lifestyle changes or drugs, you may need additional tests.

  • A barium swallow radiograph uses x-rays to help spot abnormalities such as a hiatal hernia and severe inflammation of the esophagus. With this test, you drink a solution and then x-rays are taken. Mild irritation will not appear on this test, although narrowing of the esophagus called stricture – ulcers, hiatal hernia, and other problems will. This test is rarely used these days.
  • Upper endoscopy is more accurate than a barium swallow radiograph and may be performed in a hospital or a doctor’s office. The doctor will spray your throat to numb it and slide down a thin, flexible plastic tube called an endoscope. A tiny camera in the endoscope allows the doctor to see the surface of the esophagus and to search for abnormalities. If you have had moderate to severe symptoms and this procedure reveals injury to the esophagus, usually no other tests are needed to confirm GERD.
    The doctor may use tiny tweezers (forceps) in the endoscope to remove a small piece of tissue for biopsy. A biopsy viewed under a microscope can reveal damage caused by acid reflux and rule out other problems if no infecting organisms or abnormal growths are found.
  • In an ambulatory pH monitoring examination, the doctor puts a tiny tube into the esophagus that will stay there for 24 hours. While you go about your normal activities, it measures when and how much acid comes up into your esophagus. This test is useful in people with GERD symptoms but no esophageal damage. The procedure is also helpful in detecting whether respiratory symptoms, including wheezing and coughing, are triggered by reflux. A wireless version of this test is also available to detect acid reflux over a 48 hour period (Bravo testing).

Surgery

Surgery is an option when medicine and lifestyle changes do not work. Surgery may also be a reasonable alternative to a lifetime of drugs and discomfort.

Fundoplication, usually a specific variation called Nissen fundoplication, is the standard surgical treatment for GERD. The upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the LES to strengthen the sphincter and prevent acid reflux and to repair a hiatal hernia.

This fundoplication procedure may be done using a laparoscope and requires only tiny incisions in the abdomen. To perform the fundoplication, surgeons use small instruments that hold a tiny camera. Laparoscopic fundoplication has been used safely and effectively in people of all ages, even babies. When performed by experienced surgeons, the procedure is reported to be as good as standard fundoplication. Furthermore, people can leave the hospital in 1 to 3 days and return to work in 2 to 3 weeks.

Endoscopic devices, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several endoscopic devices to treat chronic heartburn. The Bard EndoCinch system puts stitches in the LES to create little pleats that help strengthen the muscle. The Stretta system uses electrodes to create tiny cuts on the LES. When the cuts heal, the scar tissue helps toughen the muscle. The long-term effects of these two procedures are unknown. Endoscopic devices are rarely used in the management of GERD.

What are the long-term complications of GERD?

Sometimes GERD can cause serious complications. Inflammation of the esophagus from stomach acid causes bleeding or ulcers. In addition, scars from tissue damage can narrow the esophagus and make swallowing difficult. Some people develop Barrett’s esophagus, where cells in the esophageal lining take on an abnormal shape and color, and which over time can lead to cancer.

Also, studies have shown that asthma, chronic cough, and pulmonary fibrosis may be aggravated or even caused by GERD.

Points to Remember

  • Heartburn / acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD. Anyone experiencing heartburn twice a week or more may have GERD.
  • You can have GERD without having heartburn. Your symptoms could be excessive clearing of the throat, problems swallowing, the feeling that food is stuck in your throat, burning in the mouth, or pain in the chest.
  • If you have been using antacids for more than 2 weeks, it is time to see a doctor. Most doctors can treat GERD. Or you may want to visit an internist–a doctor who specializes in internal medicine–or a gastroenterologist–a doctor who treats diseases of the stomach and intestines.
  • Doctors usually recommend lifestyle and dietary changes to relieve heartburn. Many people with GERD also need medication. Surgery may be an option.

Surgery is an option when medicine and lifestyle changes do not work. Surgery may also be a reasonable alternative to a lifetime of drugs and discomfort.

Fundoplication, usually a specific variation called Nissen fundoplication, is the standard surgical treatment for GERD. The upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the LES to strengthen the sphincter and prevent acid reflux and to repair a hiatal hernia.

This fundoplication procedure may be done using a laparoscope and requires only tiny incisions in the abdomen. To perform the fundoplication, surgeons use small instruments that hold a tiny camera. Laparoscopic fundoplication has been used safely and effectively in people of all ages, even babies. When performed by experienced surgeons, the procedure is reported to be as good as standard fundoplication. Furthermore, people can leave the hospital in 1 to 3 days and return to work in 2 to 3 weeks.

Endoscopic devices, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several endoscopic devices to treat chronic heartburn. The Bard EndoCinch system puts stitches in the LES to create little pleats that help strengthen the muscle. The Stretta system uses electrodes to create tiny cuts on the LES. When the cuts heal, the scar tissue helps toughen the muscle. The long-term effects of these two procedures are unknown. Endoscopic devices are rarely used in the management of GERD.

For More Information
To learn more about this topic, visit:

American College of Gastroenterology (ACG)
American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)

Perhaps most importantly, does the doctor inspire your confidence? Are you able to establish a good relationship? GERD is a long-term condition that will likely take twists and turns over time. You will be best served by a doctor who is your partner through this.

No doctor is perfect, but the answers to the above questions should help you decide. Remember, you are not married to your doctor. It is your right to find a new one and have your complete medical record transferred. On the other hand, too many changes can work against you.

More Finding a Doctor Topics

  • How to Talk to Your Doctor
  • Doctor-Patient Communication
  • How to Help Your Doctor Help You
  • Helpful Insights from a GI Doctor
  • Changing Doctors

Looking for a Provider? Helpful links:

  • Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist – Compiled and maintained by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • AGA GI Locator Service – Compiled and maintained by American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)
  • Find a Gastroenterologist – Compiled and maintained by American College of Gastroenterology (ACG)
  • A Registry of GI Motility Laboratories for Patient Evaluation – Compiled and maintained by The American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society (ANMS)
  • Find a Pediatric Gastroenterologist – Compiled and maintained by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN)

Adapted from IFFGD Publication: I Have a Gut Problem: Which Doctor Should I See? by W. Grant Thompson, MD, FRCP(C), Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

7 Acid Reflux Symptoms That Require Immediate Medical Attention

With as busy as people are today with work, school, family commitments and countless other duties, it is little wonder that many individuals lack the time or focus to eat a balanced diet. As they rely on fast food, processed frozen entrees or eating in a hurry to keep their stomachs full during the week, an increased number of people today are finding that they suffer from acid reflux more often.

Mild indigestion can typically be taken care of with a bicarbonate of soda or over-the-counter antacids. However, if your gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, fails to respond to these simple measures, you should know when to see your doctor for better treatment of this condition. These GERD symptoms indicate that you should see medical attention promptly.

1) Chest Pain

Chest pain, especially if it is comes on sudden or is particularly sharp, almost always demands that you seek immediate medical help. While you may initially believe that you are having a heart attack, you more than likely are suffering from severe acid reflux. In fact, a recent study showed that 57 percent of chest pain patients actually suffered from GERD rather than a heart attack.

The study also showed that women were more likely to experience GERD-related chest pain than men. Indeed, women reported suffering worse acid reflux when they were lying down; men, on the other hand, reported having worse symptoms when they were in an upright position. Regardless of what position you are in, however, you should see your doctor right away if you experience severe chest pain.

2) Symptoms of Shock

Shock-like symptoms, including sudden weakness, dizziness, fainting or confusion demand that you go to the emergency room immediately. Barring other causes, your symptoms may stem from severe acid reflux. When you get prompt help, your doctor can begin treatment immediately and save you from passing out or suffering neurological damages from this condition.

3) Abdominal Cramping

When you have an upset stomach or moderate indigestion, it is normal to experience cramping in your abdomen. However, if your cramps persist, fail to respond to antacids, using the bathroom, or resting, or are accompanied by black or tarry stools, you should go to the ER or make an appointment with your doctor right away. Severe cramps may indicate that you have suffered bleeding or another type of damage in your stomach or intestines.

4) Difficulty Swallowing Food or Pain When Eating

Feeling like you are choking or unable to swallow food is an abnormal symptom that often accompanies severe acid reflux. If you cannot get your food to go down your esophagus or feel like you are choking when you eat, you would do well to see your physician promptly. This symptom may indicate that your esophagus has been damaged from stomach acid.

Likewise, if eating and swallowing food has become painful for you, you likewise are urged to contact your doctor. Your throat and mouth could be severely damaged from the constant reflux of acid. Your doctor can administer immediate treatment to relieve your pain.

5 Chronic Coughing

If you have a chronic cough, it may stem from something more than bronchitis, allergies or the common cold. It may actually be caused by GERD. When you suffer from a cough that will not be quieted by cough suppressants, antihistamines, or even a rescue inhaler, you should ask your doctor to test you for acid reflux. A proper diagnosis can help your doctor prescribe you the correct treatment for your GERD-related cough.

6) Shifting of Pain in Stomach or Abdomen

Mild acid reflux typically occurs in the same place each time you experience a flare-up of your symptoms. However, if the pain moves around your stomach or chest or it relocates to a new area entirely, you should go to the ER or your doctor immediately. This symptom could signal that the damage from this disease is rapidly expanding into a new location in your body or that you are developing ulcers.

7) Uncontrollable Weight Loss

GERD can rob your body of the nutrients it needs to maintain your weight. If you are losing weight and cannot stop the pace at which this loss is occurring, you need to visit with your physician quickly. If you delay treatment, you could suffer from nutritional deficiencies and a weakened immune system. Your doctor can give you the proper remedy to curb the acid reflux and help your body retain and regain the weight that you have lost.

An increased number of men and women today suffer from chronic acid reflux. This condition, known as GERD or gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease can cause extensive damage in your body if you fail to have it treated promptly. While milder cases respond well to over-the-counter remedies like antacids or baking soda, severe acid reflux often accompanies serious and life-threatening symptoms that require your immediate attention. These seven symptoms of severe GERD signal your immediate need to go to an emergency room or visit with your physician promptly.

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