Acid reflux disease is a common condition and can affect anyone at any age. Some people won’t even notice they have acid reflux until symptoms become more obvious. If you think you have the condition, take note that symptoms vary from mild to severe. When your body experiences an acid reflux disease symptom, you may not be aware of it until you take some tests. Let’s talk about the varying degrees of symptoms and diagnosis of acid reflux disease.
Heartburn is one of the most common symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in the middle area of the chest behind the breastbone. Sufferers may experience some pain or discomfort as the sensation travels from the upper abdomen to the neck. This experience often worsens after eating or when lying down/bending over. Although heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux, not all sufferers of this condition have it.
Signs Of Progression
Depending on the severity of your condition, heartburns may become persistent and the pain can last as long as 2 hours. Bitter acid may travel into the throat while you are sleeping and you may occasionally have a bitter taste in the mouth. You may then wake up with a very hoarse voice and experience persistent dry cough. Furthermore, you may start to wheeze or feel a certain tightness in your throat as though something is stuck inside. In children, symptoms include persistent cough and repeated vomiting.
In some cases, patients will only realize the severity of their condition after tests and diagnosis. This is especially true in the case of reflux esophagitis, where the inner lining of the esophagus is severely damaged. Ulcers and scarring may develop, making it hard to swallow food and/or liquids. People who have reflux esophagitis have a somewhat increased risk of cancer of the esophagus.
Complications may occur over time if left untreated for a long time. You may develop severe inflammation in the esophagus and stricture (severe narrowing of the esophagus). Problems may even reach the teeth and air passageways of the lungs. In other cases, underlying muscular abnormalities may develop and symptoms may persist even after treatment. Older individuals are more susceptible to these complications, especially if they’ve had acid reflux disease before.
Here are some complications that may occur due to acid reflux disease:
– Dental problems – Chronic throat problems – Stricture – Erosive esophagitis – Barrett’s Esophagus – Respiratory Disorders (Asthma) – Sleep apnea
Symptoms of acid reflux disease may occur frequently or even just temporarily. It may last for weeks, months or even years and may come back after treatment. Because the duration of symptoms varies greatly, we can never be too sure if we have a mild or severe case of acid reflux. The only way to be certain is to have a diagnosis. Tests often involve esophagoscopy, barium swallow, cardiac evaluation, esophageal manometry, and esophageal pH monitoring.
If your condition is diagnosed to be severe, it may take more than one of the tests mentioned above. Before symptoms worsen, see your doctor to have a diagnosis even if your symptoms are mild.