Where Do You Hurt with Acid Reflux?

Reviewed on 2/11/2022

Ilustration of acid reflux occuring in the stomach and esophagus
Acid reflux causes heartburn pain or discomfort in the chest, stomach, abdomen, or throat.

Acid reflux is a condition in which acid from the stomach backs up into the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach (the esophagus).

When acid reflux occurs more than twice weekly, is chronic, or causes uncomfortable symptoms or damage, it is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Heartburn pain or discomfort due to acid reflux occurs in the chest, stomach, abdomen, or throat.

Other symptoms of acid reflux in adults include:

What Causes Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux happens when the lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes, causing stomach contents to back up into the esophagus. 

Causes of lower esophageal sphincter weakness or relaxation include:

How Is Acid Reflux Diagnosed?

Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination.

In addition, tests used to diagnose acid reflux include: 

  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and biopsy
  • Upper GI series
  • Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring
  • Esophageal manometry 
  • Stool occult blood test

How Do You Get Rid of Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux can often be managed with lifestyle changes or with non-prescription medicines. 

Home remedies to relieve acid reflux include:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Don’t overeat
  • Don’t eat 2 to 3 hours before bed
    • Lying down with a full stomach can make reflux worse
  • Raise the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches using blocks of wood or rubber under 2 legs of the bed or a foam wedge under the mattress
  • Avoid medications such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) that can aggravate reflux
  • Avoid foods that worsen symptoms 
  • Take medications with plenty of water
  • Don’t smoke
  • Wear loose clothing around the stomach area

If lifestyle changes do not relieve symptoms of acid reflux, medications to treat the condition include: 

In severe cases of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), surgery may be indicated when symptoms do not improve with lifestyle changes or medications. 

Surgery used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) includes: 

  • Fundoplication
    • A laparoscopic procedure in which a thin tube with a tiny video camera is inserted into the abdomen and the top part of the stomach is sewn around the esophagus to reduce reflux
  • Endoscopic techniques
    • Endoscopic sewing uses small stitches to tighten the sphincter muscle
    • Radiofrequency creates heat lesions, or sores, to help tighten the sphincter muscle
    • Results for endoscopic techniques are not as good as those for fundoplication


GERD is the back up of stomach acid into the esophagus. See Answer

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Reviewed on 2/11/2022
Image Source: iStock Images