One cause of acid reflux is a hiatal hernia, which causes the upper part of the stomach to move above the diaphragm. Other causes include carbonated drinks, being overweight, smoking, pregnancy and lying down after eating large meals, according to WebMD.
During swallowing, the valve between the stomach and the esophagus opens and closes after food enters the stomach. If this valve weakens or relaxes abnormally, stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. The lining of the esophagus then wears with time, causing esophageal narrowing and bleeding, states Mayo Clinic.
Bubbles from carbonated drinks expand and cause increased pressure in the stomach, promoting acid reflux. Additionally, chocolate is high in cocoa, fat and stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine, which increase the risk of this condition, explains Health.com. Risk factors include obesity, diabetes, asthma and connective disorders such as scleroderma, according to Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, nausea, weight loss, cough and regurgitation, which is sour-tasting acid in the throat or mouth. Treatments include avoiding wearing tight clothes, eating small meals several times a day, quitting smoking and losing weight through healthy diets and exercise. Patients should also tell the doctor about the medications they are taking to determine whether they could be causing symptoms of acid reflux, explains WebMD.