There are many unpleasant symptoms associated with acid reflux, ranging from heartburn to hoarseness. These symptoms are normally triggered when digestive acids rise up from the stomach and irritate the lining of the oesophagus. In this page, our digestive expert Ali Cullen discusses the symptoms of acid reflux, how they are caused and when you should consult your doctor.
Acid reflux arises when the acidic contents of the stomach leak out, backwards and upwards into the gullet or oesophagus. It is a relatively common condition and most of us will have experienced a bout of two of acid reflux after eating too much.
However, acid reflux can also be a health condition and people suffering the problem experience a range of recurrent symptoms.
Secretions from the stomach are acidic to help the digestive process, and the lining of this part of the body has been designed to cope with the irritating effects of gastric acid and enzymes. However, this is not the case with the oesophagus.
When stomach acid comes into contact with the cells lining the oesophagus, tissues become inflamed and this is when you experience pain in your chest behind your breastbone.
As the gullet lies close to the heart, pain arising from this organ can appear to come from the heart – which explains the term ‘heartburn’. On the other hand, some people suffering angina or a heart attack can mistake symptoms for indigestion.
If you experience or are concerned about any type of pain in the chest, seek medical attention immediately.
Acids have a sour taste - lemons taste the way they do because of the acids they contain.
When stomach acid leaks and travels all the way back into the back of your throat or mouth, the sourness you taste is in fact the taste of stomach acid. This symptom is most common when you bend over or lie down, particularly after a large meal.
Of course, most problems with the digestive system can give rise to nausea, as can motion sickness.
If you are experiencing persistent unexplained nausea seek help from your doctor to rule out any underlying health problems. This is especially important if you are vomiting or suffering from headaches.
Hoarseness – stomach acid can sometimes irritate the larynx (voicebox), making you sound hoarse. You may feel as if you are coming down with a cold or flu, although no other symptoms develop
Excessive saliva – in health, saliva helps us chew and has enzymes to help break down food. It also helps us wash away any irritants in the mouth and throat. With acid reflux, the salivary glands produce more saliva than normal in an attempt at removing the irritant.
Hello. My name is Alison Cullen and I am an experienced nutritional therapist with a clinic in Ayrshire, Scotland. I currently combine running my clinic with the role of Education Manager for A Vogel. I lecture, train and write extensively on health issues, which I find endlessly fascinating.
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