Acid reflux is the action by which stomach content travels back up the oesophagus and into the throat or mouth. Heartburn is a subsequent symptom of acid reflux, a burning sensation felt in the chest.
Many people experience acid reflux occasionally, and whilst the cause may at times be unknown, there are some common causes it may be triggered by.
Those of you that suffer with acid reflux frequently, may be suffering from Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD). GORD is not a serious health condition and is surprisingly common, with a typical occurrence of 1 in 10 people.
Your oesophageal lining can become damaged with repeated exposure to stomach acids, so it is advised to speak to a health professional if you are regularly suffering from acid reflux. Lifestyle changes and medicines can be utilised to treat acid reflux and to relieve symptoms.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
The symptoms of acid reflux are often most prominent at night, when lying down, bending over or after eating.
Acid reflux has two main characteristic symptoms:
- Heartburn – A burning feeling in your chest or throat
- Sour taste in the mouth and throat, caused by the presence of stomach acid
Other symptoms of Acid reflux include:
- Bad breath
Causes of Acid Reflux
The sphincter muscle is a valve located at the entrance of your stomach. Its purpose is to open to allow food to enter into the stomach and then closes. When the sphincter muscle is not functioning properly, stomach acid can reverse into the oesophagus, causing acid reflux.
Diet can affect the functioning of the muscle, with fried, greasy food, foods that are high in fat, and dairy products causing the valve to relax. Acid production can also be increased by the consumption of spicy food, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
Acid reflux is often triggered by eating large meals, lying down after eating, or eating late at night.
If you are overweight, there is increased pressure on your stomach which can cause the valve to open after eating. Similarly, pregnancy can have the same effect.
If you have a hiatus hernia, the risk of reflux is increased, as the gap in the diaphragm allows parts of the stomach to move into the chest.
Other causes include smoking, stress and some medications such as ibuprofen.