Do you ever feel a fiery, tingling sensation at the back of your mouth after eating a heavy meal or spicy foods? What you’re feeling is stomach acid or bile flowing back up into your esophagus. This is often accompanied by heartburn, which is characterized by a burning or tightening sensation in the chest behind the breastbone.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once per month, and more than 15 million Americans may experience it every day. Though it can occur in anyone, including infants and children, acid reflux is most common in pregnant women, people who are obese, and older adults.
While it’s normal to experience acid reflux occasionally, those who experience it more than twice per week may have a more serious problem known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a chronic form of acid reflux that can irritate the lining of your esophagus, causing it to become inflamed. This inflammation may lead to esophagitis, which is a condition that may make it difficult or painful to swallow. Constant esophageal irritation may also result in bleeding, narrowing of the esophagus, or a precancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
The symptoms of acid reflux in teenagers and adults can include:
- a burning sensation in the chest that gets worse when bending over or lying down and usually occurs after a meal
- frequent burping
- abdominal discomfort
- a bitter taste in the mouth
- a dry cough
The symptoms of acid reflux in infants and young children can include:
- wet burps
- frequent spitting up or vomiting, especially after meals
- wheezing or choking due to acid backup into windpipe and lungs
- spitting up after age 1, which is the age at which spitting up should stop
- irritability or crying after meals
- refusing to eat or only eating small amounts of food
- difficulty gaining weight