Acid reflux, or heartburn
, is caused when acid from the stomach refluxes into the esophagus
. Each week, 15 percent of Americans experience acid reflux. Most people manage
their symptoms with over-the-counter medications like antacids
. However, recurring and persistent acid reflux is a sign of a more serious complication
called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
and symptoms of GERD include:
- pain in the chest area
- a bitter taste in the mouth
- sore throat
- sleep apnea
with GERD experiences all of these symptoms. Some symptoms of GERD are very
serious and require emergency care, either by your doctor or a visit to the
You should call
your doctor if:
- you have pain
in your chest and have a numbing pain in your jaw or arm. These are signs of a
heart problem and indicate that you should get help immediately
- the type,
location, or severity of your chest pain changes
- you have severe abdominal pain
- you have signs of shock, such as weakness, dizziness, confusion, and fainting (unconsciousness)
- your skin is
cool, wet, and pale, or you begin to sweat
- you have
trouble breathing or are short of breath—this can be a sign of a respiratory
- you have the
sensation of choking
- you’re vomiting fluid that is dark brown, yellow, green, or looks like coffee grounds
- you have
diarrhea that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
medicine isn’t helping to relieve your symptoms
- you experience
sudden or dramatic weight loss
patients visit the emergency department because of GERD than any other
digestive disorder. If you have GERD and are experiencing any of these symptoms,
don’t wait. Contact your doctor immediately.
J.E. (2008). Gastric esophageal reflux disease. In Everhart, J.E., ed. The burden of digestive diseases in the
United States, US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health
Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
NIH Publication No. 09-6443.
- Farcup, C.,
Kleinman, L., Sloan, S., et al. (2001). The impact of nocturnal symptoms
associated with gastric esophageal reflux disease on health related quality of
life. Arch Intern Med, 161(1):45-52.
- O'Malley, P.
Clinical Updates: Screening for GERD in Hospitalized Patients. (2010, March 01).
Mosby's Nursing Consult. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from http://www.nursingconsult.com/nursing/clinical-updates/full-text?clinical_update_id=191270&parentpage=topics&landingPageId=GASTROESOPHAGEALREFLUX.lp
Education: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). (2011, March 14). Mosby's
Nursing Consult. Retrieved April 19, 2012, from http://www.nursingconsult.com/nursing/patient-education/full-text?handout_id=44292&docId=10087&otherid
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