Is Acid Reflux Genetic?
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a digestive issue that occurs when stomach content flows back from the stomach and into the esophagus. Because of the high acidic content, this causes a burning pain in the chest. You might also hear it referred to by the more common nickname heartburn.
What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?
About 60 million Americans experience occasional heartburn. Those who have it once or twice a month may find that their symptoms are adequately controlled by over the counter medication. However, this is not the case for everyone – some patients suffer acid reflux twice weekly or even more.
This chronic condition is referred to as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD.) The symptoms of GERD and acid reflux are similar:
- An intermittent burning pain in the chest.
- Regurgitation, which intensifies the pain.
- Trouble swallowing.
- A full feeling.
Causes of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle located at the far end of the esophagus, fails to close tightly. It should only open for a brief period when you swallow – but it can relax too frequently or fail to close the way it should. That, in turn, allows the content of the stomach to move back up from the stomach and into the esophagus.
A number of things can temporarily worsen acid reflux, including stress, carbonated beverages, and even eating a large meal. Many different foods and beverages can produce symptoms, and which ones are associated with the condition varies from one patient to another.
Is Acid Reflux Genetic?
There are significant connections between acid reflux and certain genes. However, not all those with particular gene combinations will experience acid reflux. Research has shown that if a close relative has the condition, you are more likely to develop it at some point. This includes twin and fraternal siblings and other immediate family members.
Ways to Control Your Acid Reflux and Minimize Symptoms
- Reduce or Eliminate Coffee and Alcohol: Although many different dietary components can contribute to acid reflux, the most common culprits are coffee and alcohol. Coffee is highly acidic and can contribute to a variety of gastric issues. Alcohol, on the other hand, can compromise esophageal function.
- Check Possible Dietary Concerns: By maintaining a food journal, you may be able to discover which foods worsen your symptoms. If you curb or eliminate these foods, you might find your symptoms much more manageable. Some triggers include garlic, onions, fried foods, spicy foods, citrus, and tomatoes.
- Lose Weight if You Are Overweight: By placing additional stress on the stomach or esophagus, excess body fat can contribute to a case of acid reflux or GERD. If symptoms arise suddenly in tandem with weight gain, consider adopting a diet and exercise plan and monitoring your symptoms for positive changes.
Acid reflux becomes more likely with age, but you do not have to suffer in silence. When you have an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment, you can get lasting relief from acid reflux.
Gotham Medical Associates can help. To find out more or get started, contact us today.