Acid reflux, also known as acid indigestion, is extremely common. It occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t close properly. The LES is the muscle located between the esophagus and the stomach. It’s a one-way valve that normally opens for limited amounts of time when you swallow. When the LES fails to close completely, stomach contents and digestive juices can come back up into the esophagus.
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, which causes a burning sensation in the chest. Other symptoms may include regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. When acid reflux occurs more than twice per week, it is known as chronic acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The thyroid and hyperthyroidism
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. The thyroid gland is responsible for making hormones that regulate the body's metabolism, which is the body’s process of creating and using energy. There are several different disorders that can occur when the thyroid produces too many or too few hormones.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. It interferes with the body’s ability to perform normal metabolic functions, such as effectively using energy from food products. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain and fatigue.
The acid reflux-thyroid connection
Although there isn’t a direct link between acid reflux and thyroid disease, this relationship can be seen in those with an underactive thyroid. This is especially true if it’s due to Hashimoto disease, which is an autoimmune disease where the thyroid tissue is destroyed.
It’s thought that Hashimoto disease is associated with an esophageal motility disorder that can lead to heartburn and reflux symptoms. Also, those with hypothyroidism have a tendency to be overweight or obese due to a lack of thyroid hormone. This also increases the risk for reflux symptoms.
Talk to your doctor
If you have a thyroid disease and also have acid reflux, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you find ways to relieve your acid reflux, without affecting your thyroid function further.
If you have acid reflux and think it may be related to your thyroid, see if you have other symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you do, talk to your doctor. They can test you for this condition. If the diagnosis is hypothyroidism, they can prescribe the proper treatment.