GERD can cause a lot of symptoms and if left untreated can raise the risk of esophageal cancer, and feeling faint or a feeling like you’re about to pass out is a symptom that many acid reflux sufferers wonder can also be caused by this condition.
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease and can cause numerous symptoms, and some of them are very uncomfortable such as chest pain and frequent coughing.
Some people who suffer from GERD may also, by chance, be experiencing an occasional or periodic feeling of faintness or feeling like they’re on the verge of passing out.
So they wonder if GERD can actually cause them to feel faint or make them actually pass out.
“Almost never,” says Dr. Brian Lacy, MD, of Dartmouth Hitchcock Med Center, who specializes in functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and is author of the book “Healing Heartburn.”
Here is what Dr. Lacy explains:
“Feeling faint can occur for a variety of reasons (low blood sugar, low blood pressure, not enough salt in the diet, medications, anxiety, heart problems, diabetes, kidney problems, other nerve problems).”
Most notably when heart problems cause feeling faint, the issue may be an arrhythmia or congestive heart failure.
Dr. Lacy continues, “Fainting (syncope) can also occur for a host of reasons. There are rare (almost reportable, because it is so uncommon) [cases] of GERD causing fainting.
“This typically happens if acid reflux occurs and then the esophagus has a severe spasm.
“This can occasionally cause a drop in pulse and blood pressure since the spasm is so severe, and causes pain, that it causes someone to faint.
“But this is so extremely rare (again, almost unheard of) that no one typically thinks of faintness or fainting, from acid reflux.”
What can you take away from this information?
That it’s extremely more likely that any fainting or feelings like you’re about to pass out is being caused by something other than GERD.
It’s not safe to assume, “I get lightheaded and sometimes feel faint due to my acid reflux.”
Furthermore, if you frequently feel faint – this frequent occurrence even more so points to a cause unrelated to gastroesophageal reflux disease.
So what should you do?
Assume that your feelings of getting close to passing out have nothing to do with your GERD.
Next, try to rule out the most serious possible cause. This would mean an exam by a cardiologist to check your heart and blood pressure.
While you’re at it you should get a blood test to check for diabetes. Then take it from there, working through the list until a cause is found.
Anxiety as a diagnosis should come only when all other possible causes are ruled out.
If your cardiologist declares your cardiovascular system in top condition, discuss the faint feelings with your primary care physician, as this symptom – again, is very unlikely (but not impossible) to be caused by GERD.
Dr. Lacy combines his love of science, medicine and people to uncover the causes of symptoms like stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and regurgitation.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.