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Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux, occurs when contents of the stomach such as food or stomach acid move back into the esophagus. Acid reflux symptoms can be worsened if you have a hiatal hernia, drink alcohol, smoke, suffer from obesity, or become pregnant. Lying down or bending at the waist after a large meal can also cause acid reflux symptoms. If you suffer from acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you are suffering from acid reflux, Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano can provide you with treatment options and lifestyle changes to eliminate your symptoms.

If you want to learn more about acid reflux, continue reading below.

  • What is acid reflux?
  • What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
  • What causes acid reflux?
  • What is the treatment for acid reflux?
  • What can I do to lessen the symptoms of acid reflux?
  • Points to Remember

What is acid reflux?

When you eat, food moves from the mouth to the esophagus to the stomach. Once in the stomach, food is normally prevented from reentering the esophagus by muscle fibers called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If the LES does not close tightly, then stomach acid can move back into the esophagus causing acid reflux. When digested food or stomach acid touches the back of the esophagus, you may experience nausea, heartburn, or the feeling that food is stuck behind the breastbone.

What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

The main symptoms of acid reflux are a burning pain in the mid-chest or mid-abdomen called heartburn. Other symptoms can include nausea or feeling as if food stuck behind your breastbone.

What causes acid reflux?

While it is unclear why the lower esophageal sphincter opens intermittently, allowing stomach acids to reenter the esophagus, factors such as eating a large meal; lying down after a meal; or eating close to bedtime can lead to acid reflux.

Other factors that may contribute to acid reflux include

  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • smoking
  • hiatal hernia

Common foods that can worsen reflux symptoms include

  • citrus fruits
  • chocolate
  • drinks with caffeine or alcohol
  • fatty and fried foods
  • garlic and onions
  • mint flavorings
  • spicy foods
  • tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, salsa, chili, and pizza

How is acid reflux treated?

While more severe acid reflux such as GERD require structured supervision by Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano, common acid reflux can be treated with a antacids and lifestyle changes including:

  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that worsen symptoms.
  • Lose weight if needed.
  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid lying down for 3 hours after a meal.
  • Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by securing wood blocks under the bedposts. Just using extra pillows will not help.

Points to Remember

  • Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of acid reflux. Anyone experiencing heartburn twice a week or more may have GERD.
  • Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close tightly or opens intermittently, allowing for stomach acids to reenter the esophagus.
  • Specific factors such as eating a large meal or lying down after eating can cause acid reflux.
  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, have a hiatal hernia, or are pregnant, you are more likely to may experience acid reflux.
  • Common acid reflux is treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and antacid medication.

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