Heartburn is generally a symptom rather than a disease. Don’t be afraid hearing the name only, it has nothing to do with the heart. Generally, it is not a heart disease. It usually occurs due to acid reflux.
What is Heartburn?
The esophagus is a tube which joint the mouth and the stomach. It is made of soft muscles and line with moist pink tissue called mucosa. With the help of gravity the lower esophageal sphincter (a muscular valve) usually called LES keeps the stomach acid in the stomach. The LES is located at the bottom of the esophagus where it gets joint with the stomach. Normally it is open to take food and then close after taking food. But if the LES opens too often or does not close tightly, then stomach acid can leak and come to the upper portion of the esophagus. That will cause discomfort on the upper abdomen or under the breast bone (sternum), usually known as heartburn or burning chest pain. In terms of medical science, heart burning used interchangeably Pyrosis or Acid indigestion.
Occasional heartburn is none of our concern, it is not too dangerous. But chronic reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can sometimes lead to severe pain sometimes and sometimes some other serious complications. About 20% Americans feel this trouble each week. This is more common for pregnant women, most of the complain about indigestion and heartburn during pregnancy.
Causes of Heartburn
There are multiple factors for causing this problem. Some of them are following:
- The basic cause is the irregular activity of the LES.
- If something causes a pressure to the stomach (for example, pregnancy, obesity or constipation).
- Overeating or too much food in the stomach is a frequent cause of acid reflux.
- People who eat too rich food. High spicy and using too much oil in cooking leads to it.
- Certain artificial food like chocolate, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated products and peppermint. Also fruits like tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic and onions can show typical signs of GERD.
- Too much stress and lack of sleep can increase acid reflux and can cause discomfort.
- Some medications are also the cause that’s why doctors give supplementary gastric medicine with some medicines.
- Smoking is highly blamable for acid reflux and GERD, which relaxes the LES and stimulates stomach acid leads to feeling discomfort.
Symptoms of Heartburn
How does heartburn feel like?
- A burning feeling in the chest just behind sternum occurs right after eating.
- You may feel chest pain, especially after bending over, lying down or eating. But make sure by consulting with your doctor. Don’t assume it is due to acid reflux until your doctor says it.
- Burning in the throat. You may feel hot, sour, acidic or salty tasting fluid at the back of the throat.
- May feel Difficulty swallowing.
- Feels like food “sticking” in the middle of the chest or throat.
- Sometimes heartburn may cause chronic cough, sore throat or chronic hoarseness.
How to prevent heartburn?
Following are some daily routine or lifestyle change helps to reduce heartburn. This is pretty much true for any kind of acid reflux trouble.
- Lose weight: Keep a reasonable weight according to your height. Those who maintain their weight may experience fewer bouts of heartburn than the obese. Because they feel less pressure in the stomach.
- Quit Smoking: Try to quit smoking step by step if you are a chain smoker. Smoking irritates the digestive system and you may feel worsen symptoms of acid reflux.
- Small Meals: Take small but frequent meals. It will help your stomach to digest food easily. May be four meals instead of three.
- Snacks: Take your evening meal three hours before sleeping. At least try two hours before sleeping.
- Avoid some foods: Avoid certain foods which trigger acid reflux. For example, contain caffeine, avoid alcohols and beverage drinks, tomatoes, fatty or spicy foods.
- Change of sleeping position: You may get the great advantage of rising the head end of your bed. It will reduce night time irritation and improve your reflux condition.
If you don’t feel any change by following these steps, consult with your doctor immediately. Generally, doctor will advise you antacids for irregular or occasional heartburn, if it doesn’t work may need more specific treatment.