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Main > Specialty Areas > Gastroenterology >
Heartburn and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Causes of Heartburn

Heartburn occurs due to relaxation of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) muscle allowing stomach acid to come back up the esophagus. There are several causes of heartburn / acid reflux. There are several that are the most frequent causes of heartburn. Finding out what these are can help you make changes in your lifestyle and habit so you can prevent the acid reflux from happening.


Consuming alcohol relaxes the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), allowing the reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus. It also increases the production of stomach acid.


Coffee, tea, and other drinks that contain caffeine can relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to reflux into the esophagus.

Junk Food

Fried and fatty junk foods tend to slow down digestion, keeping the food in your stomach longer. This can result in increases pressure in the stomach, which in turn puts more pressure on a weakened Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), allowing reflux of stomach contents.


The chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) as they pass from the lungs into the blood.

Heavy Meals

Heavy meals can put extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into the esophagus.

Foods High in Acidic Content

Acidic or Citrus fruits and juices relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES).

Lying Down with a Full Stomach

Eating within 2 to 3 hours prior to sleeping and lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), increasing the chances of refluxed food.

‹‹ What is Heartburn? Symptoms of Heartburn ››

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