What can trigger heartburn?

Most people experience acid reflux after eating a large meal. This is a condition that develops when the reflux of stomach contents causes troublesome symptoms such as heartburn or regurgitation and/or complications. Other symptoms that may require further evaluation include chronic cough, difficulty or pain with swallowing, chest pain or nausea.

Commonly known triggers include:

  • Nicotine (any tobacco products)
  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, colas, chocolate)
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Peppermint and spearmint
  • Alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • Lying flat
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Certain prescription medicines

Certain foods and beverages can exacerbate heartburn—chocolate; peppermint; alcohol; carbonated, citrus and caffeinated drinks; onions; garlic; tomatoes; fatty meals and large meals eaten late in the evening in close proximity to lying down to sleep. Stressors may also increase perception of heartburn sensation, and an abrupt cessation of acid suppressant medications may cause a rebound in acid secretion and increase symptoms of heartburn.

Stress, a lack of sleep, smoking and certain foods can cause heartburn. The biggest food culprits are:

  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits
  • onions
  • carbonated drinks
  • alcohol
  • spicy foods
  • fried foods
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • peppermint

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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.