Causes of Acid Reflux: What Causes Acid Reflux?

In order to describe the causes of acid reflux, we would first have to describe where acid reflux actually occurs. On the place where the esophagus enters your stomach, there is a muscle called sphincter. This muscle acts as a valve, whose purpose is to prevent the contents from your stomach from moving into the esophagus instead of the small intestine.

Acid Reflux Causes

Acid Reflux Causes

The stomach is lined with protective cells that help it fight off the gastric juices, but the esophagus is not. When there is a problem with the sphincter, this causes the contents from your stomach to move upwards, causing the most common symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn.

But why would this muscle stop functioning or start functioning badly?

Firstly, there is the chance that the muscles surrounding the valve have become unable to keep it shut because they do not contract properly. This tissue may become weaker as people age. Secondly, there may be some pressure in the stomach that the valve cannot support and withstand. This is why pregnant women often experience heartburn.

What Causes Acid Reflux?

There may be one or more factors that can be considered causes of acid reflux in every particular case. The most common causes of acid reflux are:

  • Eating Large Meals

Even though acid reflux can be caused by another thing, this can easily worsen the symptoms of acid reflux. You should try to keep your meals small, especially if you are already experiencing acid reflux symptoms occasionally. When acid reflux is chronic, i.e. a person is suffering from GERD, it is best that they record what they eat in order to see what food makes their symptoms worse.

  • Bending Over

It is quite obvious why gravity would affect the stomach’s content. When the person bends forwards or even lies down, the stomach contents can easily rise and enter the esophagus. This is why acid reflux patients experience heartburn when they bend over or lie down, especially on their backs.

  • Lifting Heavy Objects

In some cases, this also applies to lifting objects that are heavy.

  • Hiatal Hernia

Also referred to as Hiatus Hernia, this condition is a very common one when it comes to causes of acid reflux. When the diaphragm’s opening where the esophagus passes becomes larger than it should be, the entire part of the stomach can easily move upwards into the chest cavity.

In most of the cases where patients have hiatal hernias, the stomach can both move forward and backwards trough the enlarged opening. In more severe cases, patients have a paraesophaegal hernia, where stomach parts may even remain in the chest cavity and become fixed there.

The symptoms of hiatal hernia include discomfort, burping, belching, nausea, vomiting and regurgitation of acids.

If you have hiatus hernia, you should try to avoid causing acid reflux symptoms. In order to do this, try to avoid things that worsen the hernia, such as coughing, heavy lifting, excessive exertion, bending forwards, straining on the toilet etc.

Pregnancy can promote both hernia and acid reflux symptoms and so does obesity.

  • Smoking

There are few reasons why acid reflux is a result of smoking. The saliva of smokers contains many bicarbonates. These bicarbonates are known to neutralize the stomach contents’ acidity. Additionally, smokers are known to produce much less saliva than those who do not smoke.

Smoking is a common, widely known cause of acid reflux. Another reason why this may be a common cause is the claim that the sphincter in the esophagus is becoming weaker because of smoking. Also, smoking is known to slow down the digestion, which in term results in increased reflux in the stomach contents.

  • Peptic Ulcers

Acid reflux is often a result of stomach problems such as peptic ulcers. This is an imbalance of digestive enzymes and you may not be able to take things under control here, but there are several things you can do to avoid the occurrence of acid reflux symptoms.

If you have peptic ulcers and start experiencing acid reflux, you can try changing your diet and consuming smaller meals. This is also a good time to start a food diary where you will write down what you eat and what causes the symptoms of acid reflux. Determining the causes of your heartburn is the best way to learn how to avoid them.

  • Asthma

Scientists have long argued about the connection between asthma and acid reflux. Therefore, this connection is still unclear, but it is common for people who have gone through an asthma attach to develop acid reflux symptoms. The reason behind this are probably the changes in the chest.

Another reason may be the inhalers. Some people say that the inhalers they use for their asthma symptoms cause the relaxing of the sphincter, which results in acids leaking into the esophagus.

This is not proven just yet, but many people complain of experiencing acid reflux after an asthma attack. Some even say that the case is opposite – acid reflux causes the asthma attacks. This is also likely since the contents that enter the esophagus can easily stimulate the nerves, which causes bronchial constriction i.e. asthma.

  • Alcohol

This is also not proven just yet, but many people have reported that they stop experiencing acid reflux symptoms or their symptoms reduce when they reduce the amount of alcohol they consume. In some cases, people who stopped drinking alcohol altogether stopped experiencing the acid reflux symptoms. If you are an acid reflux patient, you can try quitting your alcohol drinking habits, regardless of how rare they are and see whether this is the cause of your symptoms.

  • Certain Foods

There are many foods that are often linked to the symptoms of acid reflux. Such foods include:

  • Alcohol
  • Pepper
  • Spices
  • Fatty foods
  • Caffeinated products
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruit
  • Citrus juices
  • Chili
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Cabbage and beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Acidic foods

In most cases, the food that results in heartburn are high-fat meals. Also, there are some reports of foods that are commonly associated with gas making people experience acid reflux symptoms.

Once again, you should keep a food diary if you are someone who often experiences acid reflux symptoms. If the symptoms are occurring often, it is best to consult your doctor and start treatment. The doctor can help you determine the cause of your symptoms, which in term can help you reduce or eliminate them completely.