Pharmaceutical

Less common symptoms of GERD can make diagnosis difficult

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, affects as many as 40 percent of the population. The nagging symptoms of frequent heartburn, upset stomach and an acid taste in the back of the throat can help identify the condition. But some less common symptoms can make the diagnosis more difficult to pinpoint.

“I recently met a lady visiting from Iran. She has been coughing for seven years. She had seen numerous physicians and had been tested extensively in Iran. She had no word for heartburn although she described, through a translator, ‘a volcano going off in my chest,’” writes Dr. Kurt Barrett in the Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer. While she sat in his office, Dr. Barrett gave the woman a dose of medicine to treat GERD. She said she felt an improvement. After a week she told Dr. Barrett her nagging cough was almost completely gone. She had used no cough syrups or inhalers, just the acid reflux medication.

Another uncommon symptom of GERD is hiccups, Dr. Barrett says. “You can prove it to yourself by trying over the counter Gaviscon (an antacid that foams/floats on top of the stomach contents) for immediate relief of hiccups.”

If heartburn symptoms persist or worsen, a medical professional should be consulted. Prescription medication, such as Reglan (metoclopramide) may be necessary. Be sure to discuss with your health care professional any risks or adverse events associated with your heartburn medication.