If you suffer from heartburn, you know how acid reflux can be no fun, but gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux, can also cause a number of symptoms. You might not even realize it, but you could be exhibiting some weird signs you have acid reflux. Acid reflux is common, but its symptoms aren't always as obvious, which makes it easy to mistake it for another health issue.
Over three million people a year get diagnosed with acid reflux, according to Mayo Clinic, but lifestyle changes can often help with the issue. "Lifestyle factors are to blame for most cases of acid reflux," says Brunilda Nazario, M.D., board-certified internist, endocrinologist and associate medical director at WebMD, over email. "When heartburn happens, a tight waistband, smoking, alcohol, or foods cause a valve-like stomach muscle to loosen, allowing stomach acid to backwash into the esophagus. This exposes sensitive tissue in the chest to stomach acids, causing painful symptoms."
Left untreated, acid reflux can cause bigger issues such as esophageal ulcers and bleeding, increased risk of esophagus cancer, and even tooth decay, according to webmd.com, which makes it important to keep your GERD at bay. Here are 11 weird signs that you might have acid reflux.
If you notice your mouth salivating a lot more than usual, it could be acid reflux. "Salivating excessively is a relatively unusual symptom in which people can foam at the mouth, secreting as much as two teaspoons of saliva per minute in response to stomach acid irritating the esophagus," says Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD over email.
Many people often mistake acid reflux for a heart attack, and that is because it can cause pressure in the chest that radiates to other body parts. "This is caused by the stomach acid irritating the esophagus and the pain radiating to arms, neck, or back," says Carlton.
Many people who suffer from GERD get frequent migraines or headaches, according healthcentral.com. "Acid reflux may make some patients feel pain in their head or sinuses, either chronically or with sudden shooting pains," says Dr. Shawn Tsuda over email.
"Reflux can cause people to breath gastric contents into their lungs, causing a chronic cough," says Tsuda. In fact, GERD is one of the most common causes of a persistent cough, according to healthline.com. A cough caused by acid reflux often occurs at night, while lying down, or without post-nasal drip.
5A Hoarse Voice
"Acid reflux can get into the vocal cords, causing chronic inflammation," says Tsuda. Reflux laryngitis, as it's known, can cause chronic hoarseness and affect your speaking or singing.
"Chronic acid reflux can cause narrowing of your esophagus, making swallowing of both liquids and solids difficult," says Tsuda. Symptoms vary per person, but some people have trouble swallowing any substance, even their own saliva, according to healthline.com.
If you brush your teeth every day and still find that you've got some stinky breath, your acid reflux may be the root of your problem. Since many people with GERD don't efficiently digest food in the stomach, it can start to decay there and contribute to bad breath, according to everydayhealth.com. Other people might actually regurgitate small amounts of undigested food, which can lead to unwanted odor.
If you have asthma, there's a higher likelihood you could get acid reflux, as coughing or wheezing from an asthma attack can cause the valve-like muscle to temporarily malfunction and loosen. "The reverse can happen as well," says Nazario. "Acid reflux can irritate the bronchi and trigger breathing problems like asthma. Occasionally doctors will work up resistant cause of reflux with test to determine if asthma is the cause.
Many people experience heartburn symptoms at night, and they can be quite unpleasant and disruptive. "For some people, attacks of choking and retching about an hour after going to bed may signal acid reflux," says Nazario." Avoid late-night eating and drinking to help reduce these symptoms."
Many of the same things that contribute to gas also cause acid reflux, according to healthline.com, which means you may feel the urge to burp more than usual. Although some people think belching can relieve acid reflux, it can actually make it worse.
If you feel like you have a chronically-sore throat, acid reflux could be to blame. "The almost constant perception of a lump in the throat (irrespective of swallowing), has been related to GERD in some studies," says Carlton. "However, you can have a sensation of a lump in the throat for other reasons, including anxiety or a hyper-reactive upper esophageal sphincter rather than reflux."