Acid reflux and regurgitation

Regurgitation as a symptom of acid reflux

Alison Cullen
Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
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An introduction to acid reflux and regurgitation

Although acid reflux is a quite common digestive complaint nowadays, some of the more uncommon symptoms associated with this, such as regurgitation, can be quite a worry.

Acid reflux occurs when some of the contents of the stomach travel backwards into the oesophagus, through the lower oesophageal sphincter (LOS) – a circular band of smooth muscle – which can cause pain and discomfort among another of other symptoms.

Regurgitation is the sensation of acid contents passing into the back of the throat or the mouth. This can be quite unpleasant and may be accompanied with hiccups, a dry cough and in some cases even vomiting.

How does acid reflux cause regurgitation?

Acid reflux is the result of the acidic contents of the stomach travelling backwards and upwards, through the LOS, into the oesophagus. There are many causes of acid reflux from poor diet and lifestyle habits to hiatus hernia. In some cases, the symptoms of acid reflux are sporadic and mild, but in others, a number of unpleasant symptoms can crop up including regurgitation and nausea.

Although acid reflux is characterised by contents of the stomach moving backwards into the oesophagus through the LOS, if the contents continue to rise and pass the upper oesophageal sphincter, (UOS) then regurgitation is probable. Regurgitation is likely to leave an unpleasant, sour taste in the mouth, can contribute to hoarse or dry throat and may even be accompanied by vomiting – it can occur without much warning so can be quite distressing for the affected individual.

Regurgitation is more often than not associated with severe acid reflux or Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).

What can I try at home for regurgitation?

Regurgitation is an unpleasant symptom, but often targeting the underlying acid reflux is a good place to start in terms of managing your symptoms. Here we describe some simple steps which can be taken at home to help:

  • Consider lifestyle factors. As regurgitation is often quite a serious symptom of acid reflux, it is often necessary to seriously consider changing a variety of lifestyle factors. Work on losing weight if this is an issue for you, stop smoking, eat slowly and deliberately, and avoid strenuous exercise during flare ups in your symptoms
  • Drink some herbal tea. Opt for herbal teas to help calm your symptoms. Firstly, if you drink lots of caffeine-rich tea and coffee this could be problematic in itself, so making some simple swaps would be recommended. But as an added bonus, many tea varieties including ginger, peppermint and camomile are very soothing and may help to offer some relief from your symptoms.    

How can herbal remedies help me?

There may be some natural remedy options that could help to manage symptoms of acid reflux including regurgitation.

How can my doctor help?

Regurgitation may be a sign that your symptoms of acid reflux are becoming worse, so in many cases it might be time to go to your doctor, especially if home and herbal remedies don’t seem to be helping. Your doctor or pharmacist may prescribe some antacid medication to help keep your symptoms under control, but if symptoms persist you should always return for further advice.

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Did you know?

Acid reflux at night is an all-too-common problem, contributing to an estimated 7% of sleepless nights, which can lead to fatigue, increased anxiety or concentration lapses the following day.

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