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That feeling in your chest could be acid reflux: Here’s what you should know about the disorder
General Wellness

That feeling in your chest could be acid reflux: Here’s what you should know about the disorder

By Ian Gaillard, MD, Gastroenterology
Posted: August 26, 2020

Acid reflux is the most common esophageal disorder. It develops as a result of the movement of gastric, or acid, contents from the stomach into the esophagus — causing troublesome symptoms and complications. 

What does acid reflux feel like?

Classic acid reflux would feel like heartburn or like food is leaving the stomach and going into the esophagus, like regurgitation. Patients could also experience pain in their middle ear, jaw and post-nasal drip.

Typically, when you swallow, a circular band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid into your stomach. Then the sphincter closes again.

When the sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, people can experience acid reflux as acid from the stomach flows back into the esophagus. This constant backwash of acid irritates the lining of your esophagus, often causing it to become inflamed.


Have you noticed more people are reporting issues with it due to increased stress from the pandemic?

Far more patients are experiencing acid reflux as a result of these challenging times. Patients seem to be experiencing more discomfort and sensitivity, likely due to consuming fatty foods and lack of physical exercise.

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What can we do prevent acid reflux — or are there any remedies for weakening the symptoms?

Home remedies and over-the-counter items are short term fixes for acid reflux. Consult with your primary care physician to rule out any other possible causes before implementing any modifications or medications.

Lifestyle changes or meditation might be best to prevent acid reflux or reduce the frequency of the disorder. Try to:

Maintain a healthy weight

Stop smoking

Don't lie down after a meal. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed

Eat food slowly and chew thoroughly

Avoid foods and drinks that trigger reflux. Common triggers include fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion, and caffeine

Avoid tight-fitting clothing


When is the time to contact a doctor?

Seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if you also have shortness of breath, or jaw or arm pain. These may be signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Otherwise, consult your primary care physician and monitor any warning signs like anemia, weight loss, painful swallowing, vomiting blood or coffee ground like-material and continual vomiting.