What are some triggers for acid reflux?

You may find your acid reflux triggered if you engage in any behaviors that put pressure on your abdomen or that affect your lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—the muscle that's responsible for keeping stomach acids from migrating back up into your throat.

  • Dietary habits - Certain foods irritate or relax the LES, allowing stomach contents to creep back up into the esophagus and cause heartburn symptoms. Chocolate, coffee, alcohol, citrus, tomato-based foods, foods high in fat, spicy foods, garlic, onions, caffeine, and mint-flavored foods and beverages are common culprits. Overeating, reclining, lying down after a meal can cause heartburn as well.
  • Physical activity - Although exercise helps the digestive system work properly, exercising within the first few hours after eating can open the door to heartburn. Really vigorous activities, such as running, doing aerobics, or jumping rope, may make it especially easy for stomach acid to wash back up into the esophagus. And physical activities that require you to bend forward or lift heavy objects can increase abdominal pressure and bring on the burn as well.
  • Smoking - Harmful chemicals in smoke weaken the LES, making it easier for stomach contents to back up. Smoking may also increase the production of stomach acid.
  • Tight clothing - Clothing that constricts the abdominal area, such as snug pants, shirts, or belts, increases pressure on the LES and makes heartburn symptoms more likely.

Diet and portion size are the most common triggers of acid reflux.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.