What is reflux, and how do I know if I have reflux?

Module: Dysphagia and the Digestive Tract

Janet L. Poole, PhD, OTR/L, and Cindy Mendelson, PhD, RN, and Dinesh Khanna, MD, MS

Reflux means that acid comes back up from the stomach into the esophagus, or food pipe. Reflux is caused by a weak valve between the stomach and the esophagus. The symptoms are similar to those of dysphagia and include:

  • Burning feeling behind the breastbone.
  • Dry cough at night.
  • Chest pain behind the breastbone.
  • Frequent hoarse voice, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • Spitting out undigested food from the mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Sores in the mouth.
  • Acid taste in the mouth.