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What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux — also known as gastroesophageal reflux — is caused when gastric acid from your stomach flows back up into your food pipe or esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more severe form of reflux that is often associated with heartburn. Those experiencing acid reflux may taste regurgitated food or sour liquid in the throat coupled with a burning sensation in the chest.

What causes acid reflux?

A muscle at the bottom of the esophagus opens to let food in and closes to keep food in the stomach. This muscle is called the LES or lower esophageal sphincter. When your LES relaxes too often or for too long, acid backs up into your esophagus. This causes heartburn.

Some other health problems can also cause heartburn including:

  • Gastritis — a redness or inflammation of your stomach lining
  • Ulcers — painful sores on the lining of your stomach, esophagus or the first part of your small intestine
  • Hernias — when your intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall
  • Poor motility of the esophagus— when the muscles in the esophagus do not function with their normal strength and coordination 

Some lifestyle issues can cause GERD including:

  • Being overweight
  • Overeating
  • Eating foods such as citrus, chocolate, and fatty or spicy foods
  • Consuming caffeine
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Using aspirin and over-the-counter pain and fever medicines including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)