Acid reflux happens when stomach acid flows up your food pipe (esophagus). Heartburn—a burning sensation in your chest or throat—is a common symptom. The strong acid your stomach uses to digest food damages the esophagus lining and causes pain.

When acid reflux is frequent, the condition is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.) This can lead to serious problems and should be treated medically.

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What causes acid reflux?

When the muscles that connect your esophagus and stomach don’t work properly, stomach acid can back up into your esophagus. Common triggers include certain foods and drinks, such as spices, onions, tomatoes, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine and mint.

What are acid reflux symptoms?

Symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Heartburn
  • Sore throat
  • Bitter taste in mouth or throat
  • Stomach contents in throat (regurgitation)
  • Dry cough
  • Abdominal pain or pressure
  • Excessive burping
  • Pain or pressure in chest

What is GERD?

GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a chronic form of acid reflux. It can cause serious complications and should be treated.

GERD can cause these additional symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Damage to tooth enamel from acid

How is acid reflux treated?

Mild heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter antacids and lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Avoid foods, drinks and medicine that trigger heartburn
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Do not lie down right after eating
  • Stop smoking

Occasional reflux is not serious, but frequent reflux could be GERD. Consult a healthcare provider if you have symptoms more than twice a week. Treatment options include:

  • Medications to reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces
  • Medications to strengthen the muscles in your esophagus
  • Surgery to strengthen the muscles in your esophagus

Seek emergency medical treatment if you have difficulty breathing or swallowing, or if you throw up blood.

If you have frequent symptoms of acid reflux, visit the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic for diagnosis and treatment. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In® .

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