Does Salt Aggravate Acid Reflux?

High view of french fries and ketchup.

Acid reflux can be a chronic condition that requires watching everything you eat and drink to manage your symptoms. Each case of acid reflux is different, and you will have to experiment with your diet to find out if salt or other foods are personal triggers. Acid reflux can cause serious damage if it is not well-controlled, so the first step is to talk to your doctor about any dietary concerns you have.

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Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a condition that occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter muscles at the bottom of the esophagus do not close properly, which allows stomach acid to leak back into the esophagus. As the stomach acid leaks, you may develop burning sensations in the chest or throat. If this happens occasionally, it may just be acid indigestion or heartburn, but if you have these symptoms more than twice a week, you may have a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, says Cleveland Clinic. There are many factors and conditions that can cause acid reflux, so the first step in treatment is to rule out serious underlying medical conditions.


Acid Reflux Diet

Every case of acid reflux is different, and you will need to determine your personal trigger foods. Some foods may need to be eliminated from your diet altogether while some trigger foods can be eaten in moderation. Keeping a food and symptom diary for a few weeks can help when planning your diet. While not the same for everyone, some common dietary triggers are citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, fatty and fried foods, garlic, onions, mint, spicy foods and tomato-based foods, notes the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. These foods may increase the production of stomach acid.


Salt and GERD

Eating salt may not aggravate your GERD symptoms. However, while the exact reasons are not well-understood, consuming too much salt over a period of time may increase your risk of developing acid reflux. Those who add table salt to food appear to have a higher risk of GERD than those who never add salt to their food, reports a study in the journal "Gut" in 2004. Much more research is needed to determine the exact role that salt plays and how much must be consumed to raise the risk of disease.

Managing Symptoms

Consuming too much salt can also lead to retaining fluid, which in turn can lead to weight gain. Obesity is a well-known risk factor for GERD, and excess weight can make your condition worse. To best manage your acid reflux symptoms, lose excess weight, avoid tight-fitting clothing, elevate your head when lying down, space out meals throughout the day and avoiding food two to three hours before lying down.


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. If you think you may have COVID-19, use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker.