What Causes Acid Reflux?

Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux). One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia This occurs when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest. Normally, the diaphragm helps keep acid in our stomach. But if you have a hiatal hernia , acid can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease. Hiatal hernias are more common after the age of 50 and in people who are obese. They sometimes also happen after coughing, vomiting, or a physical injury.

They help tighten the lower esophageal sphincter and promote faster emptying of the stomach. In many cases, lifestyle changes combined with over-the-counter medications are all you need to control the symptoms of acid reflux disease. The stomach produces hydrochloric acid after a meal to aid in the digestion of food. Esophageal manometry can check the function of the esophagus click here to read and lower esophageal sphincter. Hiatal hernia is a condition where the upper part of the stomach protrudes through the opening in the diaphragm where the esophagus passes through to its connection with the stomach. In this case, the upper part of the stomach is up above the diaphragm (the strong muscle that separates the organs of the chest from those of the abdomen).

Avoiding foods and beverages that can weaken the LES is often recommended. These foods include chocolate , peppermint, fatty foods, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. Foods and beverages that can irritate a damaged esophageal lining, such as citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, and pepper, should also be avoided if they cause symptoms. A hiatal hernia is when the top part of your stomach bulges up into your chest cavity, preventing the LES from closing properly. Patti, MG, MD. “Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.” Medscape. Updated: Oct 17, 2017.

Smoking can damage your digestive system just as it damages so many other parts of your body. Even secondhand smoke and chewing tobacco can contribute to reflux by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter. Coughing , vomiting , straining, or sudden physical exertion can cause increased pressure in the abdomen resulting in hiatal hernia. Obesity and pregnancy also contribute to this condition. Many otherwise healthy people age 50 and over have a small hiatal hernia. Although considered a condition of middle age, hiatal hernias affect people of all ages.

Pregnancy : When a woman is pregnant, the fetus can put extra pressure on the esophageal valve, causing the release of acid and symptoms of acid reflux. Elevating the head during sleep, sipping herbal teas and eating smaller meals can help. Esophageal manometry is a test that measures the function of the lower esophageal sphincter and the motor function of the esophagus. A tube is passed down your throat until it reaches the esophagus. It is often performed along with 24-hour pH probe study. You receive sedation then a flexible probe with a tiny camera on the end is passed down your throat. The camera allows the doctor to see damage to the esophagus, how severe the GERD is, and to rule out serious complications of GERD or unexpected diseases.

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