Living With GERD: Identifying Triggers That Cause Acid Reflux

Article first published on G&L Surgical

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. If you are living with GERD, it’s good to identify the triggers that cause acid reflux. 

In this article, we’ll explore some common triggers and offer tips on how to track them to manage your symptoms effectively.

What is GERD?

Before delving into the triggers that cause acid reflux, understand what GERD is and how it affects the body. GERD occurs when the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES) – a ring of muscle that separates the oesophagus from the stomach – fails to close properly, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus. 

Over time, this can lead to complications such as inflammation, narrowing of the oesophagus, and even cancer.

GERD: Diet Triggers

One of the most common triggers for GERD is your diet. Certain foods can trigger acid reflux, including:

  • Spicy foods
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Tomato-based foods, such as pizza or spaghetti sauce
  • Chocolate
  • Mint
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

The amount of food you eat can also play a role in triggering acid reflux. Eating large meals, especially before bedtime, can cause stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus. 

Pay attention to portion sizes and avoid overeating to manage your symptoms effectively.

GERD: Lifestyle Triggers

In addition to diet, certain lifestyle factors can also trigger acid reflux. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Lying down after eating
  • Eating at night
  • Tight clothing around the waist
  • Bending over or lifting heavy objects
  • Exercise, especially high-impact activities like running or jumping

Everyone’s triggers are different, and what may trigger symptoms in one person may not affect another. Paying attention to your body and identifying specific triggers can help you manage your condition better.

Tracking Your Triggers

You can identify your triggers by keeping a journal of your symptoms and what you eat and drink. This helps you notice patterns and determine which foods and activities may be causing your symptoms. 

Some tips for keeping a journal include:

  • Record what you eat and drink, including portion sizes
  • Note the time of day you eat
  • Record any symptoms you experience and their severity
  • Keep track of any medication you take and when you take it

By tracking your triggers, you can better understand what causes your symptoms and make lifestyle changes to manage them effectively.

GERD Treatment: Nissen Fundoplication

If lifestyle changes and medication do not effectively manage your GERD symptoms, you may be required to undergo a surgical treatment known as Nissen fundoplication. This surgical procedure involves wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the LES to strengthen the muscle and prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus. 

The surgery can be done laparoscopically to reduce risk and provide long-term relief for those with severe GERD.


Living with GERD can be challenging, but identifying your triggers and making lifestyle changes can help manage your symptoms effectively. By paying attention to your diet and lifestyle habits and keeping a journal of your symptoms, you can better understand what causes your symptoms and make the necessary changes to live a healthy, symptom-free life. 

If lifestyle changes and medication are insufficient in managing your GERD symptoms, talk to our doctor about whether Nissen fundoplication may be right for you.