Causes and Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Acid Reflux Treatment in Houston
While periodic episodes of acid reflux can occur to anyone, GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, affects up to 20% of Americans on a daily to weekly basis. Understanding the causes and symptoms of acid reflux can help you determine when it’s time to seek treatment for your condition. Reflux Specialists of Houston offers diagnosis and treatment of chest pain and heartburn caused by acid reflux and GERD.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux; it causes a burning sensation in your mouth or throat, as well as a sour taste in your mouth. Severe heartburn may cause chest pain. Acid reflux can also cause symptoms of a sore throat, such as difficulty swallowing, a dry cough, hoarseness or laryngitis, and a scratchy throat. Other symptoms of acid reflux include the feeling of a lump in your throat and involuntary regurgitation of food or acid when you hiccup, burp, bend over, or lie down. Severe acid reflux and GERD can lead to vomiting and aspiration of stomach acid into the lungs, which can lead to respiratory infection.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Ultimately, acid reflux is caused by a weakening or abnormal relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, which is a ring of muscle that acts like a valve to allow food into the stomach, then closes to keep food and acid from moving back up. Acid reflux may be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from general health issues to lifestyle choices.
- Hiatal hernia occurs when the top portion of the stomach pushes up through the opening in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes. This condition disrupts the esophageal sphincter’s ability to function. Hiatal hernias are more likely in those who are overweight, over 50, or female.
- Pregnancy is another common cause of acid reflux—in fact, nearly 50% of pregnant women report heartburn, particularly in the second and third trimester. This can be due to changing hormones and displacement of the stomach by the uterus.
- Smoking has been linked to a higher incidence of heartburn and acid reflux. The nicotine found in cigarettes causes the esophageal sphincter to loosen, allowing acid into the esophagus. Smoking also causes dry mouth, which may exacerbate heartburn.
- Eating habits may also contribute to acid reflux. Certain foods and beverages can increase the chance of developing heartburn, while sleeping shortly after a meal—particularly a large one—can affect the ability of the esophageal sphincter to stay closed.