Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that can have many symptoms, including stomach pain. People may be able to help prevent or treat GERD stomach pain with lifestyle and dietary changes.

People may develop GERD over time if they keep having gastroesophageal reflux (GER), which describes when a person’s stomach contents come back up into their esophagus. Most people have GER from time to time.

There can be many other causes and symptoms of GERD. Symptoms most commonly include heartburn and tasting food or stomach acid in the mouth.

This article discusses whether GERD can cause stomach pain. It also explores GERD symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Finally, the article discusses other causes of stomach pain and when someone should consider seeing a doctor.

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GERD typically causes people to experience heartburn and regurgitation, where they taste stomach acid and food at the back of their mouth. However, people with GERD may have other symptoms that include epigastric pain.

Doctors use the term “epigastric pain” to describe pain that people feel just below their breast bone in the mid-upper part of their abdomen which typically includes part of the stomach. In 2020, researchers investigated different kinds of GERD symptoms. They found that about 3 in 10 people with GERD have mainly epigastric symptoms including epigastric pain.

Some people with GERD experience nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

The main symptoms of GERD include heartburn and regurgitation.

However, not everyone living with GERD experiences heartburn or regurgitation. Other GERD symptoms may include:

Doctors usually recommend lifestyle changes and medication for a person’s GERD symptoms, such as:

Doctors may recommend surgery if a person’s GERD does not improve with lifestyle changes or medication. Some people may also wish to have surgery in order to stop taking long-term GERD medications.

Surgeries for GERD include:

  • fundoplication, in which a surgeon sews the top of a person’s stomach around the end of their esophagus to prevent reflux
  • weight loss surgery, which may involve a range of surgical procedures but typically includes gastric bypass surgery
  • endoscopy, for which doctors may use a flexible tube, or endoscope, to perform some treatments for GERD

The lifestyle modifications and medications in the previous section may help to prevent GERD symptoms and complications.

Some dietary changes that people can make that may help prevent GERD symptoms, including stomach pain, involve:

  • avoiding certain foods and beverages, which may include:
    • spicy foods
    • acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • limiting any other foods that trigger GERD symptoms
  • eating meals at least 3 hours before lying down or going to bed

A person may find it useful to keep a food journal. They can show their food journal to their doctor, who may then recommend reducing or avoiding certain foods or drinks to see if a person’s GERD symptoms improve.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), other causes of abdominal pain can include:

If a person has sudden or severe abdominal pain, they should seek immediate medical attention. They should also speak with a healthcare professional if their symptoms do not go away.

People should see a doctor if:

  • they think they have GERD
  • their symptoms do not get better with lifestyle changes or over-the-counter medications
  • their GERD symptoms worsen

A person should also talk with a healthcare professional if they have symptoms that could be related to GERD complications or other serious health issues. These include:

GERD typically causes regurgitation and heartburn. However, another possible symptom of GERD is upper stomach pain.

People may be able to treat or prevent GERD stomach pain with lifestyle and dietary changes. Doctors can also treat GERD with medication and surgery.

A person should speak with a healthcare professional if they think they have GERD, or if they are experiencing GERD symptoms that do not go away or worsen.

Individuals should note that a range of other conditions may also cause people to have stomach pain, so they should also speak with a doctor if they experience severe pain or pain that does not go away.