A day marked with a morning cup of coffee, followed by a lunchtime latte and an afternoon espresso sounds delicious. But, if you're also experiencing heartburn, your love of caffeine could also be responsible for your acid reflux.
"Caffeine is one of the biggest culprits [of heartburn], particularly high caffeine content coffee such as espressos," Dr. Otto Lin, MD, a Virginia Mason gastroenterologist, says.
So, how does that warm and comforting treat cause such discomfort?
"Caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to reflux back up the esophagus," Dr. Lin explains. What's more, non-herbal teas, certain sodas, energy drinks, and dark chocolate with more than 75 percent cocoa, which all contain caffeine, are also potential triggers.
The good news is, you might not have to totally give up your pumpkin spice brew.
While it's important to get medical advice on your symptoms from your doctor, limiting the amount of caffeine you consume can help. "For patients with underlying acid reflux, we usually recommend not more than two cups of caffeinated coffee per day. Most acid reflux patients are able to tolerate small amounts of coffee without excessive symptoms," Dr. Lin says.
Another option is switching to decaffeinated coffee. If sweet speciality coffee beverages are your go-to, you should know that "high sugar drinks typically will worsen acid reflux, although the exact mechanism is not clear," Dr. Lin explains.
So, if you suspect refilling your coffee mug multiple times a day is to blame, consider cutting back, and also reaching out to your doctor for personalized guidance.