You should see your doctor about GERD or heartburn before waiting too long. A burning chest discomfort may be GERD or it could be something else such as a heart problem. Angina or heart pain can be difficult to differentiate from GERD. If you are not sure or have any questions, this should prompt a visit to your doctor, especially if the discomfort is associated with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, and/or arm or jaw pain or if the chest discomfort is associated with exercise. People with risk factors associated with heart disease such as a family history of heart attacks, smokers, those with high blood pressure, and those with high cholesterol are at increased risk for heart disease, and any chest pain warrants a doctor visit.
Assuming the GERD is really just heartburn, any of the following requires a visit to your doctor:
• If you have had problems with GERD for more than a few months and are regularly taking over-the-counter medications. You may want to see your doctor because there may be better or more appropriate medications.
• If you experience GERD symptoms three times or more per week. This frequency may increase GERD complications.
• If you have any difficulty swallowing, with food or liquids getting stuck.
• If you wake at night coughing or choking or experience increased symptoms of asthma. This may be a manifestation of GERD.
Any one of these symptoms can be treated and should be evaluated by a doctor because further testing or medication may be in order.
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