About one in five adults experiences chronic acid reflux, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). But this could be a low estimate since many treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medications, and it may never occur to them to talk to a doctor if they feel they have the condition under control.
Certainly, if your acid reflux symptoms occur only now and then and are easily controlled with consumer antacids, there’s likely no urgent need to seek medical attention. When symptoms increase in frequency or start to interfere with your daily routine, though, it may be time to visit Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat for an examination. Dr. Scott N. Bateman and his team are standing by to help you find permanent relief.
Symptoms of acid reflux
Ideally, your digestive system is one-way, but sometimes a muscle at the top of the stomach weakens or fails and allows stomach acid to move backward into your esophagus. This can create a sensation called heartburn, though it’s not a universal symptom of acid reflux, nor does it have anything to do with the heart, other than that the sensation is felt behind the breastbone, near the heart.
While not everyone with acid reflux feels heartburn, it’s the most common symptom. Other symptoms that may accompany or replace heartburn include:
- Discomfort or pain when swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Nausea and/or vomiting
When you suffer acid reflux symptoms more than two times a week for a period of about a month or longer, you may be diagnosed with GERD. Sometimes, changing lifestyle options may help relieve your symptoms, while in other cases, you’ll need medical attention and intervention.
Things you can change
Acid reflux and GERD have many contributing factors. When your symptoms become more frequent, consider these risk factors and make changes where you can.
- Alcohol consumption
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Reflux symptoms after eating large meals
- Drinking acidic beverages, including fruit juices
- Eating high-fat foods or foods prepared by frying
- Late-night meals or snacks
There may be acid reflux risk factors that are temporary or difficult to change on your own, such as pregnancy or being overweight, conditions that add pressure to the lower esophageal sphincter. Some types of drugs may also contribute to acid reflux and GERD, so reviewing your regular medications with Dr. Bateman is usually part of the examination process.
Urgent acid reflux symptoms
Seek medical advice sooner rather than later if:
- Symptoms become severe or suddenly increase in frequency
- OTC remedies don’t work, or you’ve been using them longer than two weeks
- You have difficulty swallowing solid food
- Stomach pain accompanies acid reflux symptoms
- You’re vomiting blood or black-colored substances
- You’re passing bloody or black bowel movements or have diarrhea
Contact Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat whenever you struggle with acid reflux or GERD symptoms. Call the office directly at 307-672-0290, or request an appointment online. Dr. Bateman now accepts telehealth appointments to limit COVID-19 exposure.