What Causes Heartburn? – Symptoms and Causes
Is heartburn making you miserable? If yes, you may want to know the reason for your heartburn. Heartburn is a fairly common condition, with more than 15 million Americans experiencing heartburn symptoms every day.
Heartburn affects the esophagus and is characterized by a burning sensation. This condition occurs due to the irritation of the esophagus (back up of stomach acid to the esophagus).
Our diets and lifestyles are the leading cause of heartburn attacks. You may avoid this condition by changing your diet and adopting healthier eating habits.
While most people occasionally experience heartburn which is nothing to worry about, frequent occurrences could indicate a more serious condition requiring medical care. Below are the most common causes of heartburn.
Causes of Heartburn
If you frequently suffer from heartburn, there’s a probability that you are familiar with the symptoms of heartburn, such as nausea and burning pain in the chest. However, have you considered what could be the cause of your heartburn?
What causes heartburn varies for each person, but the common cause of heartburn is the backup of stomach acid (Acid reflux) into the esophagus. Specific diets such as spicy food, tomatoes, garlic, fatty food, chocolate coffee, alcohol, or beverages can trigger heartburn.
Additionally, pregnancy, obesity, smoking, stress, eating a large meal, or eating in a rush before bedtime can result in a heartburn attack.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Symptoms of heartburn usually present as a burning sensation in the chest. Heartburn usually occurs shortly after a meal and may persist briefly or for a prolonged time. A backup of acid in the esophagus may also cause a bitter or sour taste.
If you have heartburn symptoms, you may experience extreme discomfort when you bend over or lie down because these actions allow the free flow of stomach acid into the esophagus.
Treatment for Heartburn
Heartburn can be an uncomfortable experience that can disrupt your work performance and mood. If heartburn constantly strikes, you can use these home remedies to find quick relief:
1. Drink a glass of Water
Drink a glass of water when you feel heartburn coming on. Water dilutes the stomach acids irritating the esophagus.
2. Chew gum
If you experience heartburn shortly after a meal, chew on sugar-free gum to stimulate the production of saliva, which neutralizes the stomach acid present in the esophagus.
3. Drink vegetable juice
You can drink the juice from blended vegetables with alkaline properties such as carrot and cucumber to neutralize the effect of the acid in your stomach.
4. Heartburn Medication
Taking antacids, which reduce discomfort, or proton pump inhibitors, which decrease stomach acid production, can alleviate heartburn symptoms.
5. Heartburn Surgery
If not adequately treated, repeated occurrences of acid reflux can develop into a more serious health concern such as Barrett’s esophagus. The acid can scar tissues which can gradually build up to constrict the opening in the esophagus, limiting the free passage of food.
Your doctor may perform a laparoscopic fundoplication to stop acid back up to the esophagus.
Prevention of Heartburn
1. Eat Slowly
Overeating is a common problem because they ignore how fast they eat. The brain takes about 20 minutes to recognize that the stomach is full, so slowing down while eating will prevent the intake of the excess meal.
2. Eat smaller portions.
Consistently eat smaller portions of a meal at intervals than one chunk of a meal at once to relieve pressure on your digestive system.
3. Do not lay down after eating.
The sphincter of the esophagus stretches and relaxes with many large meals, allowing acid to escape each time you bend over or lie down. So wait at least 3 hours before going to bed after a large dinner.
4. Avoid certain foods and drinks.
The triggers for heartburn are different for everyone. You should keep a log of all triggers and avoid them. Certain foods like tomatoes, ginger, and onions, can cause heartburn for some.
Avoid drinking carbonated beverages and caffeine products such as chocolates during meals.
5. Sleep Properly
Relax your head at an elevated angle when sleeping to prevent stomach acid from backing up to the esophagus
Heartburn is not a benign condition, so if you experience heartburn symptoms regularly, you should contact a specialist for professional advice.