Regurgitation: What is it & What Causes It?

Regurgitation is the process by which ingested food is brought up into the mouth or nose without the force of vomiting. There are a number of different causes of regurgitation, but the most common is a malfunction of the muscles and nerves of the esophagus. Let’s take a look at what regurgitation is and explore potential causes.

What is Regurgitation?

Regurgitation is when stomach contents and food come back up your esophagus, also known as your food pipe, and into your throat and mouth. Regurgitation often results in sour or bitter-tasting acid in your throat or mouth.

Causes of Regurgitation

There are a variety of possible causes of regurgitation. Some of the most common include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD is a chronic digestive disorder that happens when the acid and contents of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus. This often results in heartburn and can cause regurgitation.
  • Weak or damaged muscles and nerves of the esophagus: These are responsible for pushing food down during the swallowing process. Dysfunction of these muscles and/or nerve can result in the food being regurgitated.
  • Esophagus spasms: A type of ‘spasm’ can cause food to come back up without warning. This can be caused by foods or drinks that are too hot, or even by severe anxiety.
  • Cerebral palsy: People with cerebral palsy may have difficulty swallowing or control their swallowing, so food may end up coming back up.

When to See a Doctor

Regurgitation is usually harmless but can be uncomfortable. If you regurgitate regularly, or experience other symptoms such as weight loss, difficulty gaining weight, or chest pain, you should consult your doctor.