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Almost all adults have experienced acid reflux at some point in their lives.

In fact, it’s one of the most common digestive issues. Acid reflux is caused by stomach contents and acid flowing back up into your esophagus, often giving you a burning sensation in your chest known as heartburn.

“The most common symptoms of acid reflux are heartburn and regurgitation,” Dr. Kevin McGrath, MD, UPMC Digestive Health Care at UPMC Presbyterian, tells WPXI. “Other symptoms can include a sour or bitter taste in your mouth, throat burning, and chest pain. And then there are some atypical symptoms, such as coughing, hoarseness, chronic throat clearing, or fullness in your throat.”

For this common disorder, there are plenty of treatment options to help prevent acid reflux, including both medication and lifestyle changes.

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Treating Acid Reflux with Lifestyle Changes

For patients with mild acid reflux, a few small lifestyle changes could be enough to control your symptoms. If you have more severe symptoms, lifestyle changes can at least reduce the frequency of acid reflux.

Specific foods can trigger your symptoms, so keeping a food diary can help you figure out what those foods are, allowing you to eliminate them from your diet.

Foods that commonly cause acid reflux include:

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods

You also can make changes to your daily routine to help reduce acid reflux, including:

  • Eating an earlier evening meal
  • Eating a low-fat diet
  • Raising the head of your bed
  • Avoiding lying down for two hours after a meal

Treating Acid Reflux with Medication

Many people choose to treat mild heartburn with over-the-counter antacids. Antacids can be a temporary solution, but remember to pay close attention to the directions and warnings on the box. Over-the-counter H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can be used for more frequent or recurring heartburn. These medications reduce the amount of stomach acid your body produces to manage your symptoms and help you feel more comfortable. If your case is more severe, prescription strength PPIs may be necessary.

To get to the root cause of acid reflux or for more significant symptom relief, you’ll need to see a doctor. For symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, continue to recur over time, or for the sensation of food sticking in your chest, you should also consult with your physician.

If you are experiencing acid reflux and would like to discuss treatment options, schedule an appointment with one of our experts at UPMC.com/DigestiveDisordersCenter or call now, toll free, at 1-866-442-7876 (4GASTRO).

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Digestive Disorders

UPMC Digestive Health Care cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.