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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) FAQs (cont.)

What causes GERD?

We don't know the exact cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease. We do know what makes it worse, either by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter or directly by irritating the esophagus.

  • Lifestyle - Use of alcohol or cigarettes, obesity, poor posture (slouching)
  • Medications - Blood pressure drugs called calcium channel blockers, theophylline (Tedral, Hydrophed, Marax, Bronchial, Quibron), nitrates, antihistamines
  • Diet - Fatty and fried foods, chocolate, garlic and onions, drinks with caffeine, acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, spicy foods, mint flavorings
  • Eating habits - Eating large meals, eating before bedtime
  • Other medical conditions, for example, hiatal hernia, pregnancy, diabetes

What does GERD feel like?

GERD and heartburn cause the same symptoms, though GERD may have additional symptoms. GERD is diagnosed when you have constant, frequent, chronic heartburn. Heartburn and GERD feels like a painful or burning sensation in your upper abdomen behind the breastbone, sometimes going up into your throat. It may feel as if there is a hot, acidic, or sour tasting fluid at the back of the throat or you may have a sore throat.

Heartburn and GERD may make you feel like it's difficult to swallow or you may feel a tightness in the throat, as if food is stuck in your throat or esophagus.

You may have chest pain when lying down, bending over, or after eating. (See your doctor for any undiagnosed chest pain - do not assume you are experiencing heartburn or GERD until a doctor has diagnosed it.)

Does GERD have symptoms other than heartburn?

Not everyone with gastroesophageal reflux disease has heartburn. Other symptoms of GERD include regurgitation of bitter acid up into the throat while sleeping or bending over; bitter taste in the mouth; persistent dry cough; hoarseness (especially in the morning); feeling of tightness in the throat, as if a piece of food is stuck there; wheezing; and bad breath.

The most common symptoms of acid reflux in children are nausea, repeated vomiting, coughing, and other respiratory problems.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2015

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GERD FAQs - Experience

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GERD FAQs - Cause

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GERD FAQs - Lifestyle Changes

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GERD FAQs - Experience

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GERD FAQs - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease »

Gastroesophageal reflux is a normal physiological phenomenon experienced intermittently by most people, particularly after a meal.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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