What is heartburn? Symptoms & Treatment

what is heartburn

Have you ever indulged in a delicious plate of pasta and marinara only to be hit with a burning sensation in your lower chest area followed by a sour taste in your mouth? As serious as it may sound, heartburn is completely common, easy to remedy, and doesn’t effect your heart at all.

Causes of Heartburn

When you are enjoying a meal, the food travels down your throat and through your esophagus. Before the food gets to your stomach, it must pass through an opening in order to arrive there. Typically, the opening closes as soon as the food arrives in the stomach and the digestion process continues from there.

In the instance where heartburn occurs, the opening does not close as it should and the acid from your stomach travels back up, through the opening and into your esophagus causing heartburn and reflux. Heartburn can also be caused by a condition called Hiatal Hernia. When this occurs, a portion of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm, into the chest.

There are a few factors that can make heartburn worse such as pregnancy (the growing baby pushes the mother-to-be’s inner organs and stomach), bending over after eating, or over eating.

What Can Bring on Heartburn

There are various factors that can contribute to heartburn. From particular foods to certain activities, heartburn is common and eventually you will be able to determine your triggers before they happen. Here are a few:

– Citrus foods

– Cigarette smoking

– Alcohol

– Caffeinated drinks

– Spicy foods

– Onions

– Some medicines

How Do I Treat Heartburn

Luckily, heartburn is not difficult to remedy. For starters, be mindful of your triggers. Not all of the above listed triggers will cause you heartburn. Some triggers may be worst than others and some triggers can effect your friend while doing nothing to you. If you know that spicy foods are a heartburn trigger for you, be prepared.

There are a few possible treatments for heartburn.

Antacids: Antacids are over the counter medicines that neutralize stomach acids. You can carry them around with you for frequent heartburn or toss them in your car, purse, or office drawer when you know you are likely to indulge in a trigger food. Antacids work quickly but are a short-term remedy.

H2 Blockers: If your heartburn is a consistent nuisance that is truly effecting your quality of life, you can seek the help of a medical professional. They can prescribe you an H2 Blocker like Zantac to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. This will reduce the amount of acid released into your esophagus.

Lifestyle change: A surefire way to help to prevent heartburn is to alter your lifestyle. You can avoid your triggers to ensure you don’t suffer the pain of heartburn. Other options, with the support and advice of your medical professional, can be losing weight, eating several hours before laying down, quit smoking, avoid over eating, and swap out high fat foods for foods rich in protein.

When to Seek Medical Attention:

If your symptoms do not improve after you have altered your lifestyle and used antacids or H2 blockers, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor may decide to run tests to determine if you have ulcers, a deeper issue in your stomach or esophagus, or an issue with your pH balance. If you are having trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, dizziness, bloody vomit, bloody stool, or chest pain, seek immediate medical attention.

Heartburn can be a manageable part of your life by avoiding your triggers, altering small parts of your lifestyle, and consulting your doctor. If you are experiencing prolonged symptoms, though, seek professional help as persistent heartburn can be a symptom that is a part of a larger problem that your doctor can uncover.

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