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How to Know If You Have Acid Reflux

Have you ever experienced an uncomfortable burning in your chest after eating? This burning sensation is known as heartburn and is caused by stomach acid traveling up towards the throat, a phenomenon called acid reflux.1 The pain can often be worse after eating, in the evening, or when you’re lying down or bending over.2 It is important, however, to closely monitor the severity and frequency of heartburn, as acid reflux can progress to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a more severe form of reflux.3 We explore the various causes and symptoms of acid reflux in order to help you know if you have it. We’ll also explain the various treatment options available.

Common Causes of Acid Reflux

To get a better understanding of just what causes acid reflux, it may be important to understand what causes heartburn. Many people experience the feeling of heartburn when stomach acid comes in contact with the lining of the esophagus, causing a burning discomfort.2

There are many factors that can cause stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, causing reflux. Some factors to watch out for include:

  • Consuming certain types of food that are high in fat, salt, or spice (i.e. citrus fruits, fried food, fatty meats like bacon or sausage, and chocolate).4
  • Having too much pressure on the abdomen (pregnant women, in particular, could experience more acid reflux because of the increased pressure).
  • Taking various medications such as anti-depressants and sedatives, as well as medications for allergies and high blood pressure.
  • Having a hiatal hernia, which is when the upper part of your stomach bulges into your diaphragm, not allowing for the body to take in food normally.2

Common Symptoms of Acid Reflux

Different people can be affected by acid reflux. However, there are certain symptoms of acid reflux that may help you identify if you have it or not. They include:

  • Persistent heartburn
  • Chest pain and coughing
  • Having problems or difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or liquid (when the food or liquid you’ve consumed comes back into your mouth from your esophagus)2

Treatment for Acid Reflux

The symptoms of acid reflux could be unmanageable for some. Therefore, it’s important to know what treatment options you have available in order to help with any pain or discomfort. To help you or someone you know manage occasional heartburn symptoms, taking an over-the-counter medication could be a good option.

Other ways you can help yourself are by being more conscious about what types of foods you’re consuming. Consult with your doctor about other ways you can improve your diet and other lifestyle changes that can help treat occasional acid reflux.

Learn more about the causes of heartburn, how to treat heartburn, and more.


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  1. Heartburn and acid reflux. Accessed on 10/16/2020.
  2. GERD or Acid Reflux Overview. Accessed on 10/16/2020.
  3. Acid reflux and GERD: The same thing? Accessed on 10/16/2020.
  4. GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn). Accessed on 10/16/2020.
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