Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, Dyspepsia, and Gastrointestinal Function

GERD is a common condition, where acid leaks from the stomach into the esophagus, usually due to a weakening of the muscle rings at the base of the esophagus. Symptoms include heartburn, acid reflux, oesophagitis, bad breath, bloating, nausea, difficulty swallowing, painful throat, pain when swallowing, persistent cough, tooth decay, and in asthma patients, a potential worsening of symptoms, due to irritation from the stomach acid1.


Dyspepsia is disturbed, painful, or difficult digestions. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, bloating and stomach discomfort2.


Impact of coffee on Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, Dyspepsia, and Gastrointestinal function

  • No association between coffee and dyspepsia is found.
  • Coffee promotes gastro-esophageal reflux.
  • Coffee stimulates gallbladder contractions and colonic motor activity.
  • There are conflicting results on the effect of coffee on gastric emptying and small bowel transit.


Coffee is often given as a cause of dyspepsia, but despite this, there was no association between the two found in the studies. However, what the studies did show is that coffee can cause, or exacerbate Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This could explain why the most frequent complaint or symptom after drinking coffee is heartburn. This is potentially due to coffee stimulating gastrin release and gastric acid secretion. Coffee also has a prolonging effect on the adaptive relaxation of the proximal study; possibly causing a slow gastric emptying.  Other studies have found different conclusions, showing that coffee does not affect gastric emptying of small bowel transit.


Coffee does induce cholecystokinin release and gallbladder contractions; this may be why many patients with symptomatic gallstones avoid coffee consumption.


Coffee also increases rectosigmoid motor activity within 4 minutes of consumption in some people. Its effects are comparable to that of a 1000 kCal meal. These effects cannot be ascribed to its volume load, acidity, or osmolality.3



              1 NHS Choices - Heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

              2 - Dyspepsia 

              3 - Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review.