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Acid Reflux Disease: How Common Is This?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Oct 10, 2022

    Acid Reflux Disease: How Common Is This?

    What is acid reflux disease? The lower esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle at the entrance to your stomach, normally closes as soon as food passes through it. If it doesn’t close completely or if it opens too frequently, acid produced by your stomach can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms like heartburn. You might have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), if your symptoms occur more frequently than twice a week.

    What Causes Acid Reflux Disease

    Acidic or high-fat foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, chocolate, coffee, cheese, and peppermint, are the most frequent causes. Other causes of heartburn include aspirin or ibuprofen, some sedatives, and blood pressure drugs. Spicy foods or heavy meals can also be the cause.

    Acid is normally kept in our stomachs with the help of the diaphragm. But if you have a hiatal hernia, acid can move up into your esophagus and cause symptoms of acid reflux disease. Hiatal hernias are a common anatomical cause of acid reflux disease because they occur when the upper part of the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter move above the diaphragm, a muscle that separates your stomach from your chest.

    Other typical risk factors for acid reflux disease include the following:

    • Eating enormous meals or falling asleep immediately after eating
    • Being obese or overweight
    • Consuming a large lunch while hunching over or bending at the waist
    • Eating right before going to bed
    • Consuming specific foods, such as spicy or fatty foods, citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, or onions
    • Ingesting specific alcoholic, carbonated drinks, coffee, or tea beverages
    • Smoking
    • Pregnancy
    • Using blood pressure medicines, some muscle relaxants, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other pain relievers

    What are the Signs and Symptoms of Acid Reflux?

    Typical signs of acid reflux include:

    • Heartburn is a burning ache or discomfort that can travel up into your neck or up into your abdomen and chest.
    • Acid that tastes sour or bitter that suddenly backs up into your mouth or throat is known as regurgitation.
    • Bloating
    • Vomit that is bloody and/ or dark
    • Burping
    • The feeling that food is trapped in your throat, also called dysphagia
    • A constant case of the hiccups
    • Nausea
    • Weight loss without a known cause
    • Wheezing, a persistent sore throat, a dry cough, or hoarseness

    Can Food and Lifestyle Help Cure Acid Reflux Disease?

    Avoiding the meals and drinks that cause symptoms is one of the best methods to manage acid reflux Here are some more steps you can take:

    • Eat more often but in smaller portions throughout the day, and change the kinds of foods you consume
    • Give up smoking
    • Sleep with your head area slightly raised, at least 4 to 6 inches
    • Consume a meal at least two to three hours before going to bed
    • For midday naps, consider sleeping seated in a chair
    • Avoid wearing tight clothing or belts.
    • If you are overweight or obese, make changes to your diet and exercise routine to reduce weight.
    • Additionally, ask your doctor about any medications you are taking that might be causing your heartburn or other acid reflux disease symptoms.

    Can Drugs be Used to Treat Acid Reflux Disease?

    Most of the time, lifestyle modifications along with over-the-counter drugs are sufficient to control acid reflux disease symptoms.

    Antacids can neutralize stomach acid. However, if used excessively, they can also lead to diarrhea or constipation. For this reason, always consult your doctor and DO NOT take medication unless it is prescribed.

    Is Surgery Ever Used to Treat Acid Reflux Disease?

    There are two types of surgical treatments used to relieve GERD symptoms if medicine doesn’t eliminate symptoms of acid reflux disease and if these symptoms significantly affect your life. 

    Linx Device

    The most recent procedure involves surgically attaching a ring called a Linx device to the lower end of the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The device helps reflux by preventing stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. In one study, patients were able to stop taking medication or reduce the amount they took. Consult your doctor to know if you are a good candidate for this procedure.


    Another surgical procedure is called a fundoplication. It can strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, stop acid reflux, and repair a hiatal hernia. It creates an artificial valve using the top of your stomach. Surgeons perform this procedure either through an open incision in the abdomen or chest or with a lighted tube inserted through a small incision in the abdomen.

    If medical treatment for acid reflux illness proves ineffective, these procedures can be utilized as a last resort.


    It may take 1 to 3 weeks for your body to heal if you have reflux, and follow-up care is an important component of your treatment and safety. Seek emergency medical attention if you have significant chest discomfort or pressure, particularly if it occurs with jaw, neck, or back pain, nausea, or trouble breathing.

    Learn more about GERD here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Oct 10, 2022

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