Reviewed by Jeffrey B. King,

Each time you eat, stomach acids are released. Normally the lower esophageal sphincter acts as a guard to prevent stomach acids from backing up into the esophagus. An increase of the pressure in the stomach and/or relaxation of the muscle tone of the sphincter may cause reflux to occur.

Factors that cause an increase in pressure are:

  • Full stomach
  • Obesity
  • Lying down
  • Bending forward
  • Pregnancy
  • Tight clothing. 

Factors that loosen the muscle tone of the valve can be caused by:

  • Pregnancy
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol, coffee, tea,
  • Chocolate
  • Mint
  • Fatty foods.


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