People coping with acid reflux should avoid frequent consumption of fatty foods, citrus, garlic, onions and tomatoes, according to WebMD. Other common irritants include spicy foods, mint, coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages. Carbonated drinks can also exacerbate the condition, and smokers have a higher risk than nonsmokers of developing acid reflux.
Fried foods and food or drinks high in caffeine are potential triggers for acid reflux, KidsHealth states. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach fails to open and close properly, allowing stomach acid to travel backward into the esophagus. When acid reflux happens frequently, it is considered a disorder known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The most common symptom is heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest. Untreated GERD is harmful to the digestive tract because stomach acid repeatedly damages the lining of the esophagus, leading to inflammation.
Acid reflux is also a common symptom of hiatal hernias, a condition that causes the upper abdomen to push through the diaphragm WebMD notes. People with acid reflux disease often experience regurgitation or moments when bitter-tasting acid reaches the throat or mouth. Other symptoms include bloating, persistent hiccups, nausea, burping and the feeling that food is stuck in the throat. In some cases, the disease causes unexplained weight loss, black or bloody stools, wheezing, or chronic sore throat. Obesity, pregnancy and lifestyle choices contribute to acid reflux, including eating heavy meals before lying down or snacking before going to sleep.