Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus—the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. GER is also called acid reflux or acid regurgitation because the stomach’s digestive juices contain acid and bile. Sometimes people with GER can taste food or acidic fluid in the back of the mouth. Refluxed stomach acid that touches the lining of the esophagus can cause symptoms such as heartburn. Also called acid indigestion, heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning feeling in the mid-chest, behind the breastbone, or in the upper part of the abdomen—the area between the chest and the hips.
Occasional GER is common. People may be able to control GER by:
- avoiding foods and beverages that contribute to heartburn, such as chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy or spicy foods, tomato products, and alcoholic beverages
- avoiding overeating
- quitting smoking
- losing weight if they are overweight
- not eating 2 to 3 hours before sleep
- taking certain over-the-counter medications
Lifestyle changes and medications are often the first lines of treatment for suspected GER. If symptoms improve with these treatment methods, a GER diagnosis often does not require testing. However, a person may need testing if symptoms do not improve or if other concerning symptoms are present such as worsening of long-standing symptoms, symptoms starting over the age of 50, weight loss, or trouble swallowing.
For more info on GER visit the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
*Information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the Colon Cancer Alliance and