What is acid reflux, and what is it caused by?
Acid reflux occurs when acid produced by your stomach moves up into your esophagus. This muscular tube connects your throat with your stomach and has a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that normally closes as soon as food passes through. When the LES fails to close properly or opens too often, stomach acid can back up into your esophagus, resulting in acid reflux. If this happens more than twice a week, you may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This condition can cause many symptoms, including a burning sensation or pain in your chest, difficulty swallowing, and feeling as if you have a lump in your throat or sore throat. If your acid reflux occurs at night, you may also have a chronic cough and disrupted sleep.
What are some risk factors for acid reflux?
The following risk factors can make you more likely to have a problem with acid reflux:
- Having a hiatal hernia – occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above your diaphragm
- Being overweight or obese
- Lying down after eating a meal
- Eating spicy, fatty, or acidic foods such as tomato and citrus
- Drinking alcohol or coffee
- Having a connective tissue disorder – such as scleroderma
How can you avoid acid reflux in everyday life?
The following are some ways to avoid reflux:
- Stand up – Try standing up straight shortly after eating instead of lying or sitting down. You should avoid lying down for three hours after a meal.
- Change your sleeping position – Try sleeping on a six-inch incline or on your left side to reduce acid reflux.
- Eat slowly – When you eat, take small bites.
- Lose weight – If you are overweight, try and lose extra pounds with a combination of diet and exercise.
- Identify your triggers – Keep a diary that details what you eat and drink and what you do afterward so you can avoid any specific triggers you may have.
- Quit smoking – Smoking can make the muscle that keeps acids in your stomach work less effectively.
What can you do when you’re experiencing acid reflux?
Over-the-counter medications can sometimes be effective in alleviating acid reflux, but if you find yourself taking these medications frequently, you may need to see a doctor for treatment. This is also true if your efforts at self-care aren’t effective enough and your acid reflux is interfering with your sleep, work, or other activities. If you’re experiencing ongoing symptoms of acid reflux, contact us today
with Gotham Gastroenterologists. Our doctors will help you get relief from your symptoms while avoiding future complications. Fill out the form
on this page to request an appointment or call 212-794-0240
to learn more.