Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. The stomach entrance has a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that closes once food passes through it. If the LES doesn’t close completely, acid from the stomach moves into the esophagus, causing heartburn, regurgitation and an acid taste. While most people experience occasional heartburn, anyone who has symptoms two or more times a week may have acid reflux.
Common triggers of acid reflux include eating spicy meals or overeating. Drinking excessive amounts of carbonated drinks, tea, coffee or alcohol also contributes to the condition. In most cases a change in lifestyle combined with over-the-counter antacids effectively treats acid reflux. If symptoms continue, a doctor may recommend prescription medications.