Acid Reflux: Symptoms & Causes

Acid reflux is a common digestive disorder closely associated with heartburn and indigestion. It can cause a burning sensation in your chest as well as the feeling of sour or salty fluid in the back of your throat along with nausea.

Sometimes, you might hear people referring to acid reflux and indigestion interchangeably. However, there’s a few differences between the two conditions! Read our blog on the difference between indigestion and acid reflux to find out more.

If you have severe acid reflux, you might have a gastrointestinal disease called chronic acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD). If you’re suffering from acid reflux every day for more than three weeks and are not seeing relief with lifestyle changes or medicines, you should talk to your doctor for advice and possible diagnosis.

If you have GORD, your doctor may put you on medication, such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or histamine type 2 receptor antagonists (H2As) to reduce stomach acid and relieve your symptoms.

What are the

Acid reflux can be pain free, but it can also cause some discomfort. The symptoms of acid reflux are:

  • A burning sensation or heat in your chest or throat, usually after eating

  •  A hot sour or salty tasting fluid in the back of your throat (regurgitation)

  • Feeling bloated

  • Needing to burp

  • Feeling nauseous and/or vomiting

  • Bad breath

  • Hiccups

Icon of a person suffering from heatburn symptoms: burning sensation in chest and throat

What causes

At the entrance to your stomach is a ring of muscle or a valve called the lower oesophageal sphincter. It is supposed to open to allow food to pass through, and close afterwards. If it doesn’t close properly or opens too often, then acid from the stomach could escape upwards into the tube that connects your mouth and stomach, called the oesophagus (also called the food pipe ).

If this happens, it can cause inflammation in the oesophagus which may damage the delicate tissue, causing pain and difficulty swallowing. This is called oesophagitis.

Acid reflux often happens when we eat certain foods. Fried food like onion rings and French fries, high fat meats and whole milk and dairy products can increase your acid reflux symptoms. This is because fatty foods take longer to digest, which means your stomach produces more acid which can result in indigestion like acid reflux and heartburn. Coffee, chocolate and alcohol can cause the valve between your stomach and oesophagus to relax .

Mixed meat being grilled on a barbecue

If you suffer from acid reflux, changing up your diet might be a good place to start when it comes to seeking symptom relief. Learn more about which foods to avoid when suffering from acid reflux on our blog.

It’s not just what you’re eating that can cause acid reflux, but also how you’re eating. Eating large meals, lying down straight after eating or snacking close to bedtime are all common triggers of reflux. If you struggle with acid reflux when you’re trying to sleep, you can check out our blog on sleeping with acid reflux for more information and useful tips.

Your lifestyle may also contribute to you developing acid reflux. Some people find that their acid reflux is worse when they are stressed, and it can also be caused or made worse by smoking, anxiety, or pregnancy.

Obesity or being overweight can also make you more likely to suffer from reflux because your weight can put increased pressure on your stomach, which can force open the valve after a meal. If you want to lose weight, you might turn to exercise, but a vigorous work-out can often trigger heartburn! Learn more on our blog on how exercise can help combat acid reflux.

Sometimes, acid reflux might be caused by a weakness of the sphincter muscle between your stomach and your oesophagus.

A hiatus hernia can also cause acid reflux. This is when there is a gap in your diaphragm which allows part of the stomach to move upwards into the chest. Your diaphragm is a thin but large sheet of muscle that separates your chest and abdomen. If you’re suffering from ongoing and severe acid reflux, you should talk to your doctor for more advice and treatment.

If you’re suffering from acid reflux, you’re not alone, and there’s a few ways you can start to manage your symptoms. Read our acid reflux treatment tips to help relieve your symptoms, including lifestyle changes and the medication you can take.

Whether you're out for a meal with your mates or just having a chilled evening at home, the unpleasant symptoms of acid reflux can ruin your day. Rennie quickly gets to work to relieve the painful symptoms by acting on the cause of the problem: the acid in your stomach.


Treating Acid Reflux >