Acid Reflux and Crohn's Disease
Last updated: October 2023
If having Crohn's disease isn't bad enough, lots of us struggle with other digestive symptoms alongside it. For me, one of these is acid reflux: categorised by burping and a strong feeling of acid in my throat.
Today I wanted to chat about how acid reflux and indigestion could be connected to Crohn's disease.
Does Crohn's cause acid reflux?
My doctors have told me that Crohn's and acid reflux are not connected, which seems odd considering it's all the same digestive tract, after all. This is because it's thought that less than 1% of Crohn's patients have the type of Crohn's that impacts the esophagus.
However, you can have reflux and Crohn's disease at the same time without Crohn's directly being the cause. After all, reflux and heartburn are thought to impact much of the healthy population too – at least 60 million Americans at least once a month, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.1
Increased acid reflux during a flare
Other studies show that Crohn's patients do commonly report heartburn and symptoms associated with it. They also note that there may be a connection between these indigestion symptoms and our disease activity: heartburn was found to correlate with increased disease activity.2
This might explain why these symptoms worsen when many of us in our flare. For me, a flare-up and reflux seem to go hand in hand.
H. pylori and Crohn's
Another connection is with the bacteria H. pylori. H pylori is responsible for things such as ulcers and heartburn/reflux and can be tested by breath and stool test. Interestingly, the connection between this and Crohn's is the reverse.
Studies have shown H. pylori was found in a lower prevalence of Crohn's disease patients than it was in H pylori-negative patients, suggesting it could possibly have a protective factor in developing Crohn's and potentially play a part in whether someone or not gets Crohn's disease.3
What triggers my acid reflux
I thought I'd share a few things that have improved my acid reflux when it arises. One is keeping an eye on what and how I'm eating. One of the biggest triggers of my reflux is definitely overeating, especially in the evening, which leads me to wake up with reflux in the middle of the night or the next morning.
Another thing that triggers my reflux is high-fat and greasy foods, so trying to be mindful of these has really helped. Chocolate is another culprit if I eat in large quantities.
What helps my reflux
When a reflux attack starts, the first thing I do is reach for a cup of mint tea. (I know some people find peppermint tea can worsen reflux, but it really helps me with indigestion and stomach pain.) I then brush my teeth and use mouthwash, as with reflux, I sometimes get a strange taste in my mouth and this helps with it.
I try to stick to small portions of plain foods when dealing with acid reflux and avoid anything too fatty or too spicy. Things like chicken and potato, soup, fish, and rice seem to work well for me. I have also found taking a probiotic with turmeric seems to help my reflux, but I think this is different for everyone so do some research and talk to your doctor before you begin.
I'd love to know: Have you dealt with acid reflux? Do you find it coincides with your Crohn's symptoms? Comment below.
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