Gastroesophageal reflux is a widespread condition that, in adulthood, may depend on lifestyle and diet but also a state of anxiety and stress.

During highly stressful periods, your discomfort can also affect the digestive system. Even anxious breathing can cause diaphragm malfunction and thus lead to gastroesophageal reflux. 

Gastroesophageal reflux: Causes

Gastroesophageal reflux consists of excessive amounts of stomach acid returning from the stomach to the esophagus. 

The cause could lie in incontinence of the cardia. This valve regulates communication between the esophagus and stomach. Still, in some cases, it could be due to increased intra-abdominal pressure, such as in cases of slow digestion, overweight, or pregnancy.

Sometimes, reflux may be related to a hiatal hernia that prevents the lower esophageal sphincter from functioning. 

Gastroesophageal reflux: Symptoms

The main symptoms of reflux, which occur after eating, are:

  • Burning in the upper abdomen or chest;
  • Stomach acid into the oral cavity. 

Atypical symptoms may also be present, such as:

  • Insomnia;
  • Extraesophageal symptoms involving the respiratory tract (dry, irritating cough, asthma attacks, hoarseness, decreased voice, need to clear the throat continuously).

If gastroesophageal reflux is suspected, it is important to undergo a gastroenterological examination, which may be followed by the specialist’s request to perform gastroscopy, an endoscopic examination that is performed with a probe equipped with a tiny camera inserted into the patient’s oral cavity to assess the health status of the esophagus, stomach and upper digestive tract.

Gastroesophageal reflux: Foods to eliminate or avoid

Reflux could cause inflammation of the upper digestive tract and stomach. In this case, acidic foods or determined slow digestion should be avoided to limit the reaction triggered by gastroesophageal reflux. 

Foods to avoid or limit include:

  • Coffee;
  • Tomatoes;
  • Fatty, fermented and spicy cheeses;
  • Fatty and smoked meats; sausages; 
  • Mint;
  • Pre-packaged sauces and gravies;
  • Citrus fruits;
  • Spirits and spirits;
  • Chocolate.

Eating habits can also affect stomach health. Coffee in the morning, for example, should be avoided because it increases hydrochloric acid production. If milk is added, then digestion will be longer. 

Fiber, then, which is difficult to digest, can congest the stomach and, therefore, should be limited. Another habit to avoid is eating fruits immediately after a meal because they tend to ferment and slow digestion. Eating fruits as a snack or at the beginning of the meal is much better. 

Finally, in the case of gastroesophageal reflux, drinking water before or after meals is advisable to prevent it from diluting the gastric juices and slowing down digestion. 

Gastroesophageal reflux and drugs

As for medications to counteract gastroesophageal reflux, the most indicated are those that block acidity. However, these are symptomatic drugs that stop the symptoms but do not treat the underlying cause. These include proton pump inhibitors, antacids, and H2 antagonists. The former have been on the market for many years and are used by hundreds of millions. 

They are excellent gastroprotective agents that can inhibit acidity for a long time. However, they must always be prescribed by a physician. Antacids, which usually come in tablets, have immediate symptom-relief properties.