According to the American College of Gastroenterology, about 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Almost all of us have occasionally overeaten (or drank), and experienced that feeling of mild tightness in the chest. But do you know why this happens? In short, heartburn is typically a symptom of acid reflux.

Acid reflux is a very commonly occurring condition during which some of the acidic contents of the stomach travel back up into the esophagus, causing uncomfortable symptoms. Although sometimes unavoidable, there are a variety of factors that are known to increase your chances of symptoms. Also keep in mind that even though occasional bouts of acid reflux are fairly common, frequent incidents can be a symptom of GERD.

 

What Are The Symptoms Of Reflux In Adults?

The main symptoms of acid reflux are heartburn and an acidic taste in the back of the throat. Heartburn will typically feel like discomfort or a slight “burning” sensation in the chest, and will sometimes start in your stomach and travel upwards. Please be aware, however, that not all chest pain is caused by acid reflux, and that sudden bouts of chest pain can be signs of a cardiac issue.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Reflux?

As mentioned earlier, a bitter/sour taste in the back of the throat and some chest pain are the most common signs that you might have a case of acid reflux. Having said that, you should also keep an eye on how often these bouts happen. Frequently occurring acid reflux can be a sign of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

 

What Are The 4 Types Of Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux itself just references a commonly occurring, short-term condition during which some of your stomach acids travel back up into the esophagus. It’s important to differentiate GERD from just acid reflux. GERD is a chronic and progressive disease during which acid reflux regularly occurs. 

There are 4 commonly recognized types of GERD:

  1. Mild GERD.
  2. Moderate GERD.
  3. Severe GERD.
  4. Precancerous lesions or esophageal cancer.

 

Foods That Cause Acid Reflux

Infographic showing which foods to eat or avoid to cure acid reflux

 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the biggest culprits when it comes to acid reflux are typically foods that delay the digestive process and cause the esophageal sphincter to relax. Foods that are salty, fatty, or spicy are particularly common offenders.

Considering this, it’s best to avoid foods such as:

  • Fried food
  • Pizza
  • Potato chips
  • Processed snacks
  • Salt, pepper, and chili powder
  • Fatty meats such as bacon and sausage
  • Cheese
  • Carbonated beverages

 

What Food Helps Acid Reflux Go Away?

Although there aren’t any foods that can instantly make acid reflux “go away”, most sources agree on a general set of foods that help prevent it. Generally speaking, foods that are high in fiber are considered a solid option for those trying to avoid symptoms. Think oatmeal and whole grains rather than bread and cookies. As for vegetables and fruits, try to select options that are less acidic. Some good options would be nuts, watermelons, and bananas. 

 

How Can I Relieve Acid Reflux?

The best way to relieve acid reflux is usually by addressing your diet. As mentioned earlier, staying away from fatty foods, salt, and carbonated beverages can be a huge help in trying to reduce reflux. Aside from this, over-the-counter medication such as Tums or  Pepto-Bismol can help relieve mild heartburn as well. 

Some experts also say that physical movements or changes can ease acid reflux as well. For example, elevating your feet or avoiding food before bedtime are often touted as easy ways to avoid digestive issues.

Does Water Help Acid Reflux?

Water can dilute the contents of your stomach and wash down anything stuck in your esophagus. So if you are already mid-bout of acid reflux, it can be worth a try. Having said that, gulping down large quantities of water can also disturb your esophagus and cause acid reflux. The best overall strategy is probably taking small sips with your meal and eating slowly. Keep in mind that swallowing food without chewing can also increase your chances of symptoms.

Do Tums Help Digestive Reflux?

As mentioned earlier, Tums can help ease mild heartburn and acidity. Since most people only occasionally suffer from acid reflux, Tums are a common and effective medication for these cases of mild acid reflux. Having said that, it is best not to rely on over-the-counter medication for long periods of time. If your symptoms are severe enough that this issue persists and interferes with your life regularly, it is best to consult your primary care physician.

Does Milk Help Reflux Symptoms?

Low-fat milk and yogurts can be effective at stabilizing your stomach acidity and providing momentary relief from acid reflux. Keep in mind, however, that any large quantities of fat can cause further acidity, so it’s best to stay away from full-fat dairy.

What Can Stop Acid Reflux Immediately?

There’s no magic pill to stop acid reflux immediately. Tums or Pepto-Bismol may provide some fast relief, but it’s always best to simply prevent reflux in the first place. Eat slowly, don’t swallow huge chunks of food or water all at once, and stay away from salty/fatty foods. Keep in mind that later stages of GERD can be seriously harmful to your health and that over-the-counter medications are not a substitute for medical intervention.

 

Best Sleeping Position For Acid Reflux

The last thing to consider if you find yourself suffering from acid reflux, are your daily habits. Even the way you sleep can inadvertently be bringing on bouts of reflux symptoms. According to multiple research studies, sleeping on your left side, with your head elevated helps reduce nighttime episodes of acid reflux.

 

What Can Be Mistaken For Acid Reflux?

Although we may have already mentioned this, it’s very important to keep in mind that not every twinge in your chest is a simple case of acid reflux. Please see a medical expert if you notice anything concerning. 

Recurring acid reflux may be a symptom of GERD, which is a chronic condition that can worsen over time.

Very frequent acid reflux can also cause esophagitis (aka inflammation of the esophagus). This condition can lead to some difficulty swallowing, although a physician may be able to prescribe a medication to relieve some of these symptoms.

Heartburn specifically, should be monitored carefully, since chest pain can have a number of different sources and sudden tightness of the chest may or may not be a simple case of heartburn. Keep in mind that stomach ulcers, anginas, or heart conditions may present similar symptoms of chest pain or discomfort.

 

Surgical Treatments For Gerd And Acid Reflux

Although a stand-alone case of acid reflux is usually no call for surgery, more serious conditions related to acid reflux may occasionally need surgical intervention. For conditions such as GERD or Gastroparesis, for example, there are a number of options for surgical intervention. Here at the Surgical Clinic, we offer several surgical procedures that can address the root cause of your GERD.

Our providers have years of experience and respect within the medical community.  We are very honored to have Dr. Trudie Goers here at the Surgical Clinic. Not only is she a qualified and board-certified surgeon, but she specializes in minimally invasive gastrointestinal repair. So if you’re ready to treat your GERD or acid reflux, we’d be more than happy to do a consultation and talk about options.

To learn more about GERD and acid reflux, feel free to visit our virtual GERD Center here on our website.

Don’t struggle with this on your own. Reach out to us for a consultation and get the relief that you need. The Surgical Clinic has locations across the Greater Nashville Area, including Mt Juliet, Downtown, Franklin, Cool Springs, Hermitage, as well as Columbia, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, and Smyrna.

 

Find a general surgeon in Greater Nashville 

dr suhail allos best general surgeon in nashville at southern hills

Dr. Suhail Allos
General Surgeon
Southern Hills

best surgeon dr john boskind TSC surgeon

Dr. John Boskind
General Surgeon
Summit

dr rachel bryant general surgeon nashville

Dr. Rachel Bryant
General Surgeon
VIEW PROFILE

Dr. Mark Cooper breast surgeon best general surgeons downtown nashville dr mark cooper with the surgical clinic

Dr. Mark Cooper
General Surgeon
Downtown

dr patrick davis best bariatric and weight loss surgeon in nashville at southern hills

Dr. Patrick Davis
General Surgeon
Southern Hills

dr alex brent fruin general surgery

Dr. Alex Fruin
General Surgeon
Summit

Dr. Andrew Garrett, general surgeon in Columbia, TN at The Surgical Clinic

Dr. Andrew Garrett
General Surgeon
Columbia

dr trudie goers for hernia surgery best general surgeon at the surgical clinic in nashville

Dr. Trudie Goers
General Surgeon
Downtown Nashville

Dr. Mark Hinson, general surgeon in Columbia, TN at The Surgical Clinic

Dr. Mark Hinson
General Surgeon
Columbia

dr george lynch general and bariatric surgeon at the surgical clinic in nashville and middle tennessee

Dr. George Lynch
General Surgeon
Downtown Nashville

best general surgeon at the surgical clinic dr clinton marlar

Dr. Clinton Marlar
General Surgeon
Skyline

dr james mcdowell board certified general surgeon in nashville tn at the surgical clinic

Dr. James McDowell
General Surgeon
Downtown Nashville

best robotic surgeon in tennessee dr willie melvin the surgical clinic rutherford hospital

Dr. Willie Melvin
General Surgeon
Smyrna

Dr. Chad Moss, MD, FACS general surgeon in Columbia, TN at The Surgical Clinic

Dr. Chad Moss
General Surgeon
Columbia

dr oxley is a general surgeon in columbia tn

Dr. Davidson Oxley
General Surgeon
VIEW PROFILE

dr william polk best surgical oncologist general and oncology surgeon in nashville at the surgical clinic downtown nashville

Dr. William Polk
General Surgeon
Downtown

dr drew reynolds gallbladder specialist general surgeon nashville tn

Dr. Drew Reynolds
General Surgeon
St. Thomas West

dr joshua taylor best hernia surgeon in murfreesboro

Dr. Joshua Taylor
General Surgeon
Smyrna

dr tyson thomas general surgeon in nashville tn at the surgical clinic

Dr. Tyson Thomas
General Surgeon
St. Thomas West

dr tyler watson robotic general surgeon nashville mt juliet

Dr. Tyler Watson
General Surgeon
Summit Clinic

dr patrick wolf best surgical oncologist in gallatin general surgeon at st thomas nashville tn

Dr. Patrick Wolf
General Surgeon
St. Thomas West

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: click here.