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Heartburn – All you need to know about its causes and symptoms

Heartburn – All you need to know about its causes and symptoms

Heart care

You feel heartburn when the stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus which is the pipe that transfers food from your mouth to your stomach. It is the burning pain in the chest, just behind the breastbone. Often, the pain is worse after eating, while lying down, bending over, or during the evening. Occasional heartburn is usual as well as is no cause for alarm. A majority of people can handle the discomfort on their own through OTC (Over-The-Counter) medications and lifestyle changes. 

Moreover, you can get rid of heartburn by eating a healthy diet and drinking food which is low in calories along with avoiding caffeine. More frequent heartburn or the one that interferes with your routine might be the symptom of a more critical condition that needs medical attention. As per the estimates from the American College of Gastroenterology, a minimum of 15 million Americans go through Heartburn daily. 

Please note that heartburn can last from a few minutes to hours. In case you experience symptoms of heartburn like severe chest pressure or pain, seek immediate assistance, particularly while blended with other symptoms and signs like difficulty in breathing. 

Causes 

As mentioned above, heartburn takes place when your stomach acid backs up into the esophagus i.e., the tube which carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Usually while swallowing, the band of muscle around your esophagus’ bottom (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes for allowing liquid and food to flow down into the stomach. And then, your muscle tightens again. 

In case your lower esophageal sphincter weakens or relaxes abnormally, the stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus (Acid Reflux) as well as cause heartburn. Furthermore, the acid backup might be worse while you are lying down or bent over. 

There are a lot of lifestyle choices, health conditions, and Foods that cause heartburn and can also worsen the condition such as – 

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Smoking
  • Consuming spicy foods
  • Taking Alcohol, caffeine, or chocolate
  • Eating certain medicines, like ibuprofen or aspirin
  • Lying down quickly after eating
  • Carbonated beverages
  • (Aleve, Naprosyn) Naproxen
  • Acidic foods are also what causes heartburn every day (grapefruit, oranges, and tomatoes)
  • Acidic juices (orange, grapefruit, and pineapple)
  • Chocolate

Read Also: Lifestyle Changes you Should Make to Prevent Heart Failure

Symptoms

Heartburn’s symptoms are quite obvious to a majority of sufferers. The most common one is the feeling of heat or warmth, burning sometimes, in your throat or chest, which is caused due to your stomach acid. 

Other symptoms are – 

  • Rising pain that possibly reaches your jaw
  • Burning sensation in between your chest
  • Acrid, foul taste in your mouth
  • Indigestion like pain and burning
  • Chest pain while you lay down or bend
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic Cough
  • Persistent hoarseness/Laryngitis
  • Regurgitation of liquids or foods with the taste of acid in your throat


 

In case a person experiences signs of acid reflux regularly, they must interact with their doctor, who might refer them to the gastroenterologist, an expert in the gut medicine for further examination. 

Make sure to have an appointment with the doctor if – 

  • The symptoms persist even after using OTC medications
  • Heartburn takes place over twice a week
  • You have persistent vomiting or nausea
  • You have difficulty in swallowing

Wondering how to prevent heartburn? Please note that frequently occurring heartburn that interferes with the routine is regarded as GERD i.e., Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. The treatment for GERD might need prescription medicines, and, sometimes, surgery or other processes. 

So, now that you know about the symptoms and causes of heartburn, the first step for its prevention, as it is usually, is a few lifestyle changes. Lose weight, watch what you consume, and stop smoking. Ginger tea or Ginger Snacks are also useful home remedies that you can purchase in a lot of stores. Make it a point to avoid snacking during late night. Rather, stop eating anything at least 2 hours before your bedtime. In case these interventions don’t completely reduce heartburn symptoms, the addition of the medicines which reduce heartburn or help in preventing it altogether, under the supervision of your doctor, must permit you to control it. 

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