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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Persistent Cough

With GERD, stomach acid can move into the esophagus and go all the way to your throat. The acid can then trickle down into your upper airways, causing a persistent cough and/or wheezing. The cough is often more noticeable in the mornings (after you have been lying down) or after meals.

Besides cough, other symptoms of GERD include:

- Sharp or burning chest pain behind the breastbone (heartburn)

- Regurgitation of sour tasting liquid from your stomach

- Swallowing difficulty or pain

- Excessive saliva production

- A feeling of a lump in your throat

- A need to repeatedly clear your throat

Avoiding reflux triggers may help you to minimize your reflux. Common triggers of reflux are smoking, alcohol, fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, caffeine, and carbonated beverages. You can minimize reflux by eating small meals and eating slowly. You should eat your evening meal well ahead of your bedtime since lying down after eating can promote more severe reflux. Consider putting a rigid foam wedge beneath your mattress or wooden blocks beneath the legs at the head of your bed to raise your head 6 inches above your foot level.

You can also treat acid reflux with antacid medicines.

"H2 blockers" are available over-the-counter or in higher doses by prescription. They reduce the production of stomach acid. Examples include famotidine (Pepcid), ranitidine (Zantac), and cimetidine (Tagamet).

Medications called "proton pump inhibitors" are able to powerfully reduce the quantity of acid that the stomach produces, especially when they are taken in high doses. Examples include omeprazole (Prilosec OTC, Prilosec, or generic omeprazole), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), and rabeprazole (Aciphex).

Consider starting treatment of the reflux yourself. See if the cough improves over the next week. You may be one step ahead when you do contact your doctor.


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