Acid reflux, also referred to as heartburn, is a medical condition in which acid flows back up to the esophagus from the stomach and upper intestines. Stomach pain is a broad term describing pain in the abdomen or stomach. Individuals can experience acid reflux and stomach pain together as symptoms of indigestion.
Stomach pain can be caused from indigestion (dyspepsia), from inflammation in the lining of the stomach (gastritis), ulcers or digestive disorders such as Crohn's or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Recurring stomach pain can be a sign of one of these disorders and could be life threatening if not treated by a doctor.
An overall poor diet can cause heartburn and stomach pain since the digestive system has to work harder to digest and process foods that are heavily processed and/or high in fat and sugar. Additionally, spicy foods, continuous alcohol consumption, smoking and medical conditions such as ulcers, gastroparesis, obesity, IBS and Crohn's disease can aggravate the digestive system, causing stomach pain and/or heartburn.
Treatment includes medication and lifestyle change. Familydoctor.org recommends that those with acid reflux and/or stomach pain quit smoking, reduce stress, avoid eating before bed time and eliminate all foods that cause digestive issues.
Infrequent and mild experiences of acid reflux and/or stomach pain are normal. However, recurring acid reflux or stomach pain should be discussed with a doctor. Seek immediate, emergent medical attention if the pain is unbearable or is accompanied by bloody stools, nausea, vomiting or fever.
Individuals who are proactive with their diet can help prevent acid reflux and stomach pain. Try eating smaller meals and avoid over-the-counter pain relievers, alcohol and caffeine.