Acid Reflux: What you Should Know & How to Avoid

Gas and pressure buildup? Occasionally heartburn? Acid reflux, also known as acid indigestion, is the process of when the acidic stomach contents go back up into the esophagus, creating a burning pain in the lower chest cavity, typically after one has finished eating. The stomach contains hydrochloric acid which helps break down and digest food you've eaten, it also protects against pathogens such as bacteria. In having this acid reach your esophagus consistently, this can often cause a sore throat or extreme throat discomfort.

In this week's Teesha Talk Tuesday, we will be discussing the causes and effects of acid reflux, what you should know, and what to avoid.

Causes of acid reflux:

1. Obesity: Studies show that the leading cause of frequent heartburn is obesity. The excess weight increases abdominal pressure, which makes stomach acid backflow more likely.

2. Smoking: The nicotine from tobacco relaxes the valve between the esophagus and the stomach; this allows stomach acid and digestive juices to back up into the esophagus, leading to heartburn. The more you smoke, the more relaxed/loose the valve is, the more heartburn you experience.

3. Eating large meals quickly or before bed: Heavy meals prior to bedtime is a huge trigger for acid reflux and also contributes to indigestion and painful heartburn. Too much food can stretch the stomach and puts excess pressure on the muscle rings that keep the stomach acids going in the wrong direction, so avoid eating heavy (or too much) before bed.

What you should know:

1. If you have acid reflux, you may develop a sour or bitter taste in the back of your mouth.

2. You may also regurgitate food from your stomach into your mouth often.

3. Acid reflux can cause difficulty swallowing due to the gradually thinning of your esophageal lining.

4. It can also lead to breathing problems like a chronic cough or a mild cause of asthma.

What to avoid:

1. Alcohol

2. Caffeine

3. A high intake of table salt

4. Lying down within 2-3 of eating a meal

5. Chocolate, carbonated drinks, and acidic or citric juices like pineapple juice or lemonade

6. Snacking close to bedtime

7. Citrus foods such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, or spicy or fatty foods

8. Taking certain medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, or blood pressure medications (these can irritate or trigger acid reflux)

Although living with acid reflux isn't fun (and can tamper with your relationship with your favorite foods like chocolate chip cookies or your favorite order at Starbucks), it certainly is manageable. Take time to learn your personal triggers and invest in better food alternatives. Happy eating, happy living!


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