Learn more about acid reflux, its signs and triggers, and when to see a doctor.
Acid reflux happens to everyone, but what should you do if this becomes a common occurrence? You may be wondering what in your diet is triggering acid reflux, and you may want to sit down with a gastroenterologist who can help you figure out why you’re experiencing frequent bouts of acid reflux. It’s important that you don’t just ignore this problem.
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach travels back up through the esophagus. While the esophageal sphincter is supposed to prevent food from traveling backward if the sphincter doesn’t function properly, acid reflux often occurs. As a result, acid reflux often causes heartburn and burning in your chest and throat. While acid reflux and heartburn are often used interchangeably, acid reflux and heartburn are different.
What triggers acid reflux?
The most common acid reflux triggers include,
- Eating a heavy meal, especially right before bed
- Alcohol consumption
- Spicy, fatty, and acidic foods
- Certain medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers
Why acid reflux is a cause for concern?
While acid reflux on its own isn’t usually anything concerning, if you are experiencing acid reflux at least two or more times a week, it’s important that you seek care from a qualified gastroenterologist. Frequent or recurring acid reflux can signify gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated or improperly treated, this chronic condition can lead to severe complications, including esophageal cancer and swallowing disorders.
Over-the-counter antacids aren’t enough; you’ll need to turn to a gastroenterologist who can prescribe the proper medication or procedure to correct weak or damaged sphincter muscles.
How is acid reflux managed?
Lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals can undoubtedly go a long way to improving symptoms. Patients who are overweight or obese will also find that symptoms improve by losing some weight. Your gastroenterologist may recommend a lower-acid diet while also prescribing an acid blocker. Surgery to repair the sphincter muscle may be advised in more severe cases.
Is acid reflux impacting your diet and affecting your quality of life? If you love eating out or cooking, you may find that acid reflux is cramping your style. This is a sign that you could benefit from turning to a gastroenterologist.