Acidy Feeling in Your Mouth? 9 Tips to Feel Better

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Chances are you've experienced that unpleasant feeling of a sour, acid-like taste in your mouth. It can happen at the most inconvenient times, but is most common upon waking up in the morning and after eating fried, fatty, and greasy foods.

It's typically due to reflux disease, experts say, and yes, it's treatable. "What causes it is when acid from the stomach comes back up into the mouth through the esophagus," explains David Bernstein, MD, chief of gastrology, hepatology, and nutrition at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. "You may not even have heartburn with it."

Just about everyone gets reflux, with or without symptoms of heartburn, at some time in their lives, Bernstein says. But if it becomes persistent and is associated with weight loss, pain or difficulty swallowing food, he advises that you see a doctor.

In the meantime, you can treat the sour taste in your mouth by trying the following:

  1. Don't lie flat in bed at night. The contents of your stomach can reflux back into your mouth. Sleep on a couple of pillows and "sleep at an angle to counteract gravity," Bernstein advises.
  2. Watch what you eat and avoid foods that are spicy or fried.
  3. Eat at least four hours before you go to bed. This way, your body will have time to digest the food.
  4. If you're overweight, lose weight. Obesity is a contributing factor in the development of reflux.
  5. Avoid taking aspirin and ibuprofen. These can cause damage to the stomach and increase the risk of reflux, Bernstein says.
  6. Eat digestive-friendly foods such as bread and rice. These foods are known for absorbing acid, Bernstein says.
  7. Watch how much milk you're drinking. Milk can be helpful because it coats the stomach, but it has a lot of calcium. "And calcium is a stimulator of acid secretion," Bernstein says. "It helps in the short-term but long-term it can cause more acid release."
  8. Try over-the counter-antacids.  Maalox, Mylanta, Pepcid AC, Tagamet, or Zantac are all great options. "If you get relief, that's great," Bernstein says. "But if you don't, see a doctor and don't continue to try to treat yourself." The doctor may prescribe a protein pump inhibitor such as Dexilant, which is by prescription only.
  9. If your symptoms don't improve, it might not be reflux, says Marco Patti, MD, a surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "Don't automatically turn to medicines because some of them have side effects," he says. "Some of the prescription medications can cause decreased calcium absorption, which can lead to fractures." Additionally, your doctor may request some tests to pinpoint whether reflux is in fact the cause. Sometimes, Patti says, the symptoms may have nothing to do with reflux. In some instances, you may be referred to a dentist or an oral surgeon.

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