What are the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)?

Kevin A. Ghassemi, MD
More than 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day. This burning sensation in the chest is a classic sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Other symptoms of GERD are:
  • lingering sour taste in the mouth
  • dry cough
Some people vomit food or feel as if food is stuck in their throat or chest.

GERD is also called acid reflux. It is a serious condition. If not properly treated, GERD can cause severe complications such as narrowing or inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis), breathing problems and an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus.

This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.
The symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease vary from patient to patient, says Chi Zhang, MD, General Surgeon at Plantation General Hospital. Many patients experience heartburn or abdominal pain. Learn more in this video.
Sunil K. Lal, MD
Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, and you’ll usually feel it more than once a week. Here are other symptoms:
  • regurgitation
  • acid taste in your mouth
  • chest discomfort
  • difficulty swallowing
  • asthma
  • increase in saliva
  • gas and bloating
  • bad breath
The most common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are heartburn, indigestion, reflux and regurgitation of food. More uncommon symptoms include chronic dry cough, chronic sore throat, worsening of asthma and difficulty swallowing. People with these uncommon symptoms are often not aware that they actually have acid reflux disease. If you are are experiencing daily or weekly GERD symptoms, see your doctor for proper diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. 
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and simple heartburn have the same symptoms. Here are the typical and atypical symptoms of heartburn:

Typical Symptoms
  • Burning breast plate (sternal) chest pain; increased by bending or lying down, worse at night, and relieved by antacids
  • Food sticking after swallowing behind breast plate
  • Acid in back of throat/sour taste on awakening
  • Regurgitation
  • Dyspepsia
  • Burping
  • Nausea
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Fullness
  • Temporary relief obtained with off the shelf antacids
Atypical Symptoms
  • Asthma
  • Postnasal drip
  • Persistent cough
  • Lump in throat
  • Raspy or hoarse voice
  • Non-cardiac chest pain
The most common symptom of reflux disease is heartburn. But Sharmila Anandasabapathy, MD, a gastroenterologist at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, explains in this video that other symptoms can accompany the condition.
Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD, but some people have other symptoms as well, including the following:
  • Nighttime heartburn
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Feeling that food is "stuck" in the esophagus
  • Acid taste in mouth
  • Laryngitis
  • Difficulty breathing (asthma-like symptoms)
  • Belching

Untreated, GERD may lead to serious complications.

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Common symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are heartburn and/or acid regurgitation. Heartburn is a burning sensation felt behind the breast bone that occurs when stomach contents irritate the normal lining of the esophagus. Acid regurgitation is the sensation of stomach fluid coming up through the chest which may reach the mouth. Less common symptoms that may also be associated with gastroesophageal reflux include unexplained chest pain, wheezing, sore throat and cough, among others.
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Symptoms of nonulcer dyspepsia (NUD) include symptoms of GERD (heartburn and/or upper abdominal pain), as well as difficulty swallowing, feelings of pressure or heaviness after eating, sensations of bloating after eating, stomach or abdominal pains and cramps, and all of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). About three of ten patients with NUD also meet the criteria for IBS. 
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Symptoms include heartburn or acid indigestion – a sense of burning in the mid-chest behind the breastbone or mid-abdomen, especially when bending or lying down, and regurgitation of food or sour liquid. Less frequently, GERD may cause trouble swallowing, hoarseness, coughing, wheezing, sore throat, and asthma.

Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

The common signs and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may include heartburn, regurgitation, sore throat, halitosis (bad breath), throat clearing, globus (sensation of fullness in the throat), hoarseness, sinusitis, chronic cough, asthma, sleep apnea, and, in a small number of cases, even laryngeal cancer and esophageal cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.