Acid reflux. You may know it as heartburn and an occasional annoyance when you overindulge in certain food or drink. You’re not alone, since about one in five people have the same problem. However, for about one-third of that group, it's chronic and much more frequent. When you have acid reflux more often than you’d care to, it’s important to understand your triggers, those conditions that send you running for the antacids.
GI Physicians Inc. in Lima, Ohio, are your go-to specialists when self-care of acid reflux comes up short. Dr. Ven Kottapalli and his team can help when occasional acid reflux turns into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You have options other than simply watching what you eat, though that’s where treatment often starts.
When heartburn is a problem
There’s no reason to panic if heartburn is occasional. It produces no lasting damage and there’s no threat to your health. What you’re experiencing is a backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter usually closes your stomach tightly against this backwash, but fails when you experience acid reflux. Your stomach lining handles the high acidity without a problem, but the more sensitive tissue of your esophagus reacts with the sensations you know as heartburn.
Heartburn triggers are conditions that cause this esophageal sphincter to relax at key moments, resulting in the burning pain you recognize after eating or perhaps when you bend over or lie down. You could even taste acid or bitterness in your mouth if the reflux is substantial. For many people, over-the-counter medications help control the symptoms.
Common acid reflux triggers
There’s no single response when identifying the causes behind heartburn. One person’s treat is another person’s trigger, and plenty of people never experience an issue, no matter what or how much they eat. Listed below are some of the more common triggers of acid reflux and GERD, though you could see effects from other things not included here.
Too much food in your stomach puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. Eating too much or too fast could be all that’s needed to cause the acid backwash. Eat a big meal just before bed and you risk problems once you recline. It doesn’t matter what food you eat, if you eat too much.
Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter and stomach sit below the diaphragm. For some people, though, the sphincter and top of the stomach protrude through the diaphragm, leading to abnormal function of the sphincter. It can’t completely close in some conditions and acid reflux results.
Food and drink
Components of your diet may agree with your palate but not your GI tract. Common offenders include:
- Caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Spicy foods
Contact the acid reflux specialists at GI Physicians, Inc. when acid reflux gets out of hand. When occasional acid reflux develops into GERD, you risk damage to your esophagus and potential precancerous changes. You can call the office or request an appointment online. Act now, when acid reflux is an inconvenience, before complications arise.