The most common symptoms of GERD are pain or burning in the chest (heartburn) and the regurgitation of sour or bitter liquid, sometimes mixed with food, to the throat or mouth. Although not everyone with gastroesophageal reflux disease has these symptoms, the combination is so characteristic of gastroesophageal reflux that formal testing is often unnecessary.
Patients may also have difficulty swallowing and chest pain that does not involve a burning sensation. The chest pain is usually located in the middle of the chest. Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) may be due to abnormal esophageal motility or to an esophageal stricture (blockage due to scarring). In addition to burning in the chest, this sensation may also arise in the throat, larynx, or lungs. Nausea may also occur.
Unusual reflux symptoms, often referred to as extra-esophageal manifestations of reflux disease, may include sore throat, coughing, increased salivation, hoarseness, and throat clearing. These unusual manifestations may occur in patients without chest pain, esophageal burning, or esophageal damage.
Last reviewed on 7/23/09
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