Acid Reflux Symptoms & Causes
Acid reflux disease symptoms
Wondering if you have acid reflux disease? Check the list below, but remember that
only your doctor can tell you if your acid reflux symptoms are signs of acid reflux
Acid reflux symptoms include
- Heartburn (a rising, burning feeling in the chest)
- Sour or bitter taste
- Difficulty swallowing
Other acid reflux symptoms may include
- Chest pain not related to the heart*
*Note: If you have chest pain, call your doctor immediately. It may be
a sign of a life-threatening condition.
Acid reflux disease causes
The LES muscle
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is the "valve" between the stomach and the
esophagus. The LES opens to let food pass into the stomach and closes tightly after
the food has passed through. When the LES does not stay closed after the food has
passed through, acid and stomach contents may back up (reflux) into the esophagus.
Watch a video about the LES muscle's
role in acid reflux disease.
Weight, stress, and other factors
There are lifestyle factors other than food that can make heartburn worse, including
- Being overweight
- Overeating (eating too much at one time)
- Wearing tight clothing that puts pressure on your stomach
Even if you take Nexium for your acid reflux disease, it's
still a good idea to avoid trigger foods
and to change habits that can worsen your acid reflux disease symptoms.
People who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop acid reflux disease
than people who are not. The reason for this is that the extra weight puts pressure
on the abdomen, pushing up the stomach and causing acid to back up into the esophagus.
Losing excess weight is good for you on many levels—especially when it comes
to your health. Remember, if you are overweight or obese, be sure to talk to your doctor before
starting any diet or exercise program.
The heartburn-stress connection
The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to suffer from heartburn associated
with acid reflux disease. A study found significant relationships between the presence
of severe, sustained life stress and increased severity of heartburn symptoms.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to manage stress and the acid reflux disease
symptoms it can cause.
Stress management tips
These steps can help you manage stress—and stress-triggered heartburn, too.
- Breathe better. Concentrate on breathing deeply from your abdomen,
not your chest
- Stretch and relax. Stand up and stretch each of your muscle groups.
Focus on releasing the tension in every part of your body
- Exercise and enjoy. Staying active can help you feel much better
- Have fun. Try to do things that make you smile and laugh. This
can relieve stress
Interactive Doctor Discussion Guide
Not quite sure how to talk to your doctor about your symptoms?
Use this interactive guide to help you answer a few quick questions. Then take the
information with you to your next appointment.