Thyroid and Acid Reflux: Is There a Connection?

Thyroid and Acid Reflux
April 16, 2021

Despite no direct link being established until now between acid reflux and thyroid disease, such a relation is often observed with an underactive thyroid, especially due to Hashimoto disease (an autoimmune disease resulting in the destruction of thyroid tissue). This is because Hashimoto disease is associated with an esophageal motility disorder that can often cause acid reflux symptoms or heartburn.

Most Common Causes of Acid Reflux

Our stomach contains hydrochloric acid, which helps break down the food we eat and protect us against pathogens such as bacteria. Acid reflux occurs when this acid in the stomach throws itself back to the esophagus along with undigested food. When this happens, as the lining of the esophagus is not adapted to protect it from the powerful acid, one may feel acid reflux symptoms.

Causes of Acid Reflux Include:

  • Hiatal hernia
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Eating large meals
  • Lying down, sleeping, or napping immediately after meals
  • Lying down on your back or bending at the waist after eating a heavy meal
  • Eating foods such as tomato, citrus fruits, garlic, chocolate, mint, spicy and fatty foods or onions
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages such as tea and coffee, alcoholic and carbonated drinks
  • Taking certain medications (e.g., muscle relaxants and aspirin)

Symptoms of Acid Reflux

The most commonly observed symptoms of acid reflux are:

  • Heartburn: Often, acid reflux manifests itself as discomfort or burning pain that moves from your stomach to your chest, abdomen, and throat.
  • Regurgitation: When this happens, you can feel a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your mouth or throat.

Other less common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Bloody vomiting
  • Dysphagia
  • Hiccups that do not stop
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss for no apparent reason
  • Dry cough, wheezing, hoarseness, or constant sore throat

Does the Thyroid Control Stomach Acid?

It is known that hypothyroidism contributes to a condition called hypochlorhydria, which drastically reduces stomach acid levels. This often leads to acid reflux, indigestion, or GERD because the low level of stomach acid stomach is incapable of digesting food properly.

Can the Thyroid Affect the Esophagus?

As already mentioned, when stomach acid levels become low due to hypothyroidism, the food cannot digest properly and it begins to rot and decompose. When such rotted food reaches the small intestine, it rejects the mess, and the food shoots back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Complications of Hypothyroidism

Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to many complications such as nerve injury, heart problems, pregnancy complications, infertility, and renal complications. Apart from these, hypothyroidism can also cause stomach problems such as low stomach acid, dyspepsia (chest pain), poor absorption, gallstones, constipation, anemia, and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.

How You Can Decrease the Effects of Acid Reflux

The following are helpful tips to help you decrease the effects of acid reflux:

  • Avoid drinking liquids with meals.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it 20 minutes before eating. This will increase the acid production in your stomach.
  • Avoid consuming foods that trigger your symptoms, such as caffeine, sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and spicy foods.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed.

If you are looking for expert natural treatment for acid reflux or effective thyroid treatment, then we are here to help you. Please schedule an appointment today with our experts online or call us at 843-572-1600.

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