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Common Triggers for Acid Reflux

An occasional bout of acid reflux is common and usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if you have frequent reflux, it may be a more chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

You recognize GERD when you experience the frequent flow-back of stomach acid into your esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include chest pain, heartburn, and regurgitation of food or liquid.

GERD is unpleasant and uncomfortable. You can also experience long-term damage, including the formation of scar tissue in the esophagus or even cancerous changes to the esophageal lining, a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.

Minimizing your episodes of acid reflux is possible with lifestyle changes. At Digestive Disorders Associates, our providers help you identify common triggers for your reflux so you can eat, live, and sleep more comfortably. 

Some of the most common triggers for acid reflux are listed below.


Smoking negatively affects your health in many ways, including when it comes to acid reflux. It can exacerbate symptoms because it damages mucus membranes and increases your secretion of acid. Smoking also impairs the reflexes in the throat and reduces salivation, which is important to neutralizing the effects of stomach acid.

Large meals and late-night snacking

When you eat a large meal, it takes your body longer to digest the food. This means when you lie down to sleep, you may still have food in your stomach being digested, so stomach acid is present and ready to flow back up into your esophagus as soon as you lie down to sleep.

The same is true for late night meals and snacks. Eating and then lying down to relax or sleep is likely to cause acid to regurgitate and cause reflux. Take a walk after dinner and plan meals earlier so you have time to fully digest.

Trigger foods

Certain foods are more likely to cause acid reflux. These include spicy foods, such as hot sauce and chili, as well as garlic, onions, and fatty foods. Tomato-based dishes, such as pizza or spaghetti sauce, are other common triggers. Also watch out for curry, citrus fruits, and chocolate.

Beverages can also be to blame, including coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. And think twice before cleansing your palate with an after-dinner mint -- it too is an acid reflux trigger.


Aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate the stomach and contribute to acid reflux. If you’re in pain or need a resolution for a headache, ask our providers at Digestive Disorders Associates what medications you can use that are less likely to trigger reflux. Certain blood pressure medicines can further exacerbate reflux. Talk to the doctors about alternative medications that may be gentler on your stomach and condition.

Avoiding these triggers can reduce symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, but if you still find you’re suffering, our doctors at Digestive Disorders Associates can help you with other therapies, too. They provide you with guidance as to antacids, prescription medications, and potential surgery to resolve your GERD.

If you suffer from symptoms that suggest acid reflux or GERD, contact Digestive Disorders Associates today. We create an entire treatment plan that includes identifying and avoiding triggers to help you heal. Call our office in Annapolis, Maryland, or click the “schedule now” button to request an appointment using the online tool. 

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