Acid reflux disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)are medical conditions characterized by some similar symptoms, including the heartburn.However, some patients suffering from acid reflux don’t experience heartburn symptoms.Even the diagnosis, whether the patient suffers from acid reflux of GERD, isbased upon the symptoms patient present to the doctor.
Heartburn is the most common symptom in both diseases, andpatients experience burning feeling, usually going upwards from the stomach orthe lower part of the chest to the neck. The problem usually arises after themeals, or when the patient is lying down, bending the body or straining. Many times,antacid medications can relieve the problem. If you experience these symptoms,it is almost certain that you are suffering from GERD and the treatment used tomanage GERD will probably work for you.
Other common symptoms may include: discomfort behind thebreastbone, regurgitation of the stomach acid or the bile or excess saliva inthe mouth (which is known as waterbrash). Some of the patients may experience odynophagiaor painful sensation while swallowing the food. Odynophagia is the conditionwhich requires urgent consultation with your doctor, because it may be provokedby serious esophagitis, bleeding and ulceration, or, sometimes, by scars fromold episodes.
Symptoms of the heartburn may also be very similar to anginaor the pain felt during the heart attack. The pain might be localized in the center ofthe chest or in the upper part of the abdomen, and there is also a possibility toexperience bloating of the chest or the abdomen. For both the patient andmedical personnel, it is very hard to differentiate these two types of pain,heart attack and acute GERD heartburn. People usually describe both pains insimilar terms, when it comes to the quality of the pain.
In most cases, emergency ambulance will look at theelectrocardiogram (ECG) and angiogram first, and then decide the treatment. Theynoticed that almost the half of all patients with normal ECGs and lack ofcoronary disease (as seen on angiogram) experience acute GERD symptoms, ratherthan heart attack. Also, angina pain is usually associated with physicalactivity and/or mental and physical stress, while GERD is not.
Coughing, wheezing and breathlessness are the respiratory symptomsthat may occur in patients suffering from GERD or acid reflux. Any unexplainedcough that lasts for more than two weeks may point to GERD. Coughing in generalis more prominent in non-smokers suffering from GERD, and patients withpermanent cough who don’t have asthma are commonly diagnosed with GERD. However,smokers can also experience similar symptoms, but they are more likely to becaused by COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or lung cancer.