Acid reflux is when stomach acid starts to leak up towards the mouth. This can cause heartburn, a bad taste in the back of the mouth, bad breath and coughing, among other things. Certain foods, such as garlic, high-fat foods and citrus, may trigger acid reflux.
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Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid leaks into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. Weakening of the muscle (valve) closing the stomach can allow leaking from the stomach into the esophagus. Stomach acid can irritate the esophagus, causing a burning sensation called heartburn.
It is possible to feel heartburn in your throat or in your chest. If you have acid reflux, you may also taste a sour liquid at the back of your mouth from the regurgitated stomach acid and/or food, a condition called indigestion. Acid reflux can also make swallowing difficult or uncomfortable.
Acid reflux can affect people of any age. Most people experience acid reflux occasionally. In long-lasting or severe forms, acid reflux is called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Certain foods may be related to acid reflux, including caffeinated drinks, chocolate, citrus fruits, garlic and onions, and fried, fatty or spicy food.
Lifestyle changes may help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux, such as losing excess weight, eating smaller meals, wearing loose-fitting clothing, not lying down after a meal, elevating your head when lying in bed and avoiding foods that seem to trigger heartburn. Avoiding alcohol and smoking may also decrease symptoms.