Can Bagels & Cream Cheese Cause Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a painful condition that occurs when the lower part of the esophagus allows stomach contents to rise. When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it may cause heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest or throat or acid indigestion. You may also taste the food or fluid in the back of your mouth. Certain foods, including bagels and cream cheese, can trigger this condition. Although some individuals may have to give up eating bagels or cream cheese products completely, others may be able to make a few simple modifications so they can continue to have this treat.


Bagels, Cream Cheese and Reflux

Certain types of bagels are more likely to trigger reflux than others. While multi-grain bagels, wheat bagels and plain bagels are typically safe, avoid bagels that contain ingredients known to trigger acid reflux. These include bagels containing chocolate, tomatoes, onions or garlic. All cream cheese products may trigger your reflux. However, the ones that are full-fat, versus the ones that are low-fat or fat-free, may be the worst offenders, according to Medline Plus. If possible, consider substituting your cream cheese for jam, margarine or peanut butter.


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Things That May Help

Making a few modifications to how you eat bagels and cream cheese may also prevent acid reflux from occurring, or at least lessen its severity. Since overeating may trigger acid reflux, keep portion sizes small. For example, eat only half of a bagel and save the rest for later. As you eat, remain as upright as possible and avoid lying down right after eating. It also may help to wear clothing that is loose and comfortable, especially around your abdominal area. After eating your bagel and cream cheese, chew a piece of non-minty gum. Doing this will increase your saliva production, while decreasing acid in your esophagus.



Some people find it useful to keep a food journal to track specific foods that trigger reflux. This may help you determine which types of bagels or cream cheese products are safe and which ones are triggers. After eating a specific type of bagel or brand of cream cheese, enter any symptoms of reflux you experience. It may be useful to assign a number to your level of discomfort for easy reference in your journal. Keep in mind that other foods or beverages that you eat right before or after your bagel and cream cheese may also trigger reflux; these might include coffee, carbonated or caffeinated beverage or citrus fruits or juices. Write down any foods you eat at the same time as your bagel and cream cheese so you can more effectively pinpoint the exact foods or beverages that triggered the reflux.



If your acid reflux is particularly bothersome or severe, medication may also help. Several over-the-counter medications are available, but your doctor may also write you a prescription if your situation warrants it. Each medication may work in a different way, so it is important that your read the label or prescribing information carefully for proper instructions. You may have to take some medications just prior to eating foods that are known reflux triggers to prevent reflux from occurring in the first place, while others may be more useful to treat existing reflux symptoms. If you have any questions or concerns about taking acid reflux medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.




Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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