Highly acidic fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, oranges, lemons and limes, can cause acid reflux symptoms, explains WebMD. Fatty or greasy foods, heavily spiced foods and tangy vegetables, such as garlic and onion, can cause acid reflux symptoms. Chocolate, mint, dairy and caffeine are additional triggers for some people.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the lower esophagus causing irritation and erosion of the esophageal tissues over time, notes Mayo Clinic. This chronic digestive disorder produces the uncomfortable, gnawing pain associated with heartburn. If heartburn symptoms occur at least twice a week, interfere with a person's daily life or cause visible damage to the esophagus, a diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, may be given.
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, according to eMedicineHealth. This persistent, burning or gnawing pain is usually centered in the middle of the chest, behind the breastbone. It may also spread upward into the neck and throat and may last as long as two hours. Additional symptoms of GERD include wheezing and dry cough, hoarseness and a sensation of food being stuck at the back of the throat. Individuals with GERD may also experience a bitter taste in the mouth and the regurgitation of stomach acid.
Treatments for GERD begin conservatively with the use of nonprescription antacids and lifestyle changes, weight loss and avoiding trigger foods, states Mayo Clinic. If these measures are not sufficient, prescription proton pump inhibitors help reduce stomach acid. Surgical intervention is also an option if prescription medications fail.