So, I’ve been having acid reflux for the longest time ever. It comes now and then. It’s nothing serious nor incredibly unbearable, neither does it affect my lifestyle, but it’s been happening more often lately that it has come to my attention. Acid reflux is the feeling you get when your throat starts burning and you can’t do anything to relieve it except wait for the feeling to go away. It can be as brief as a few seconds, or last as long as 10 seconds (in my case). It can happen anytime. For instance, it suddenly came on as I was doing my laps in the pool. It may appear when I want to burp, or when I get up from a sitting position. I’m trying to pay more attention to what I eat and what I do that triggers such a reaction.
I finally looked it up to see what causes it and how to prevent (or at least reduce) its occurrence.
Disclaimer: I have filtered the information toinclude only the causes and treatments related to diet. Information about drugs/ medical illnesses has been omitted from the post.
What is the difference between acid reflux and heartburn?
Acid reflux is the action, while heartburn is the sensation. The pain is heartburn, while the movement of acid into the esophagus from the stomach is acid reflux.
What are the symptoms of acid reflux?
- Chest pain – part of the heartburn sensation
- Heartburn – a burning feeling rising from the stomach or lower chest towards the neck
- Regurgitation – bringing food back up into the mouth
What causes acid reflux?
Acid reflux commonly occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not work properly, and allows acid to seep upwards from the stomach to the esophagus. Although we know that a faulty LES is a common cause, we are not sure why it becomes faulty. One of many reasons could be that pressure in the stomach rises higher than the LES can withstand.
Here are some common causes of acid reflux:
- Large meals and eating habits – people who have large meals will usually find that their acid reflux will improve if they cut down portion sizes. Patients who kept a food diary, noting down everything they ate and linking certain foods to incidences of acid reflux, have experienced a reduction in acid reflux.
- Bending forward – this movement will not usually cause acid reflux unless there is another underlying trigger or problem.
- Alcohol – patients have commented that quitting alcohol, or cutting down consumption significantly improved their symptoms.
What is the treatment for acid reflux?
The vast majority of people with acid reflux will get better if they make some changes to their diet. Some foods are safe for heartburn sufferers, while others are major triggers of it.
It would be easy to say that there is a reflux diet. Unfortunately, we all react differently to different foods.
Below is a list of foods/drinks that commonly cause irritation and/or heartburn:
- Black pepper
- Chili and chili powder
- Citrus fruit, pineapple
- Spicy food
- Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice, ketchup
Some patients with acid reflux say these gassy foods cause discomfort:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Fizzy drinks (sodas)