Acid indigestion, also known as heartburn or acid reflux, is a common medical condition that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing irritation and a burning sensation in the chest. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
Symptoms of acid indigestion can include:
- A burning sensation in the chest (often referred to as heartburn)
- A sour or bitter taste in the mouth
- Regurgitation of food or stomach acid into the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling like there is a lump in the throat
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Coughing or wheezing
Acid indigestion is often caused by a weakened or malfunctioning lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a muscle that normally closes off the opening between the esophagus and the stomach after food passes through. When the LES does not function properly, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort.
Certain foods and drinks, such as spicy or fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages, can also trigger acid indigestion in some people. Other risk factors for acid indigestion include being overweight or obese, smoking, and pregnancy.
Treatment for acid indigestion may include lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods, losing weight, and quitting smoking, as well as medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and H2 blockers, which help reduce the amount of acid produced in the stomach. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to strengthen the LES and prevent acid reflux.