Have you ever experienced a burning sensation in the chest along with a bitter taste in the mouth or throat, that burning sensation is nothing but heartburn. It is a common problem that is experienced when stomach content is forced back into the esophagus. The esophagus is a pipe that allows entry of food and water from the mouth to the stomach.
If there is persistent acid reflux happening twice a week then it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn is one symptom of GERD.
If you are thinking that what causes heartburn, then here is the answer! In a few people, cardiac sphincter dysfunction or become weak leading to this condition. When stomach acid reaches the esophagus, it causes irritation and this is called reflux. Another cause of heartburn is hiatal hernia and it happens when the portion of the stomach is pushed through the diaphragm into the chest!
Apart from that pregnant women also experience heartburn. The progesterone hormone allows relaxation of the esophageal sphincter and so stomach content move back to the esophagus and cause irritation. Other reasons for heartburn can be eating spicy food, smoking, obesity, taking medicines such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Symptoms Of Heartburn-
Heartburn occurs along with other gastrointestinal conditions like ulcers, or sores in the line of the stomach and esophagus. Common symptoms are-
- Burning sensation in the chest
- Pain in the jaw
- Foul acid-like taste in the mouth
If you experience heartburn frequently along with pain in swallowing, shortness of breath, dark or bloody stool, sweating when having chest pain then consult your doctor immediately. All these are the symptoms of GERD and so meet the gut specialist to get treatment as soon as possible.
Tips To Cure Heartburn-
Lose weight– diaphragm is a muscle present above the stomach and in a healthy person, the diaphragm works to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter. However, if the person has belly fat then there is high pressure in your abdomen and so the lower esophagus is pushed upwards and loses the diaphragm support! This condition is known as hiatus hernia and the main reason for heartburn in obese people.
Thus, if you lose weight then it will help in controlling reflux symptoms and give you relief.
Low-carb diet– there is some evidence showing that a low-carb diet can relieve heartburn symptoms. Scientist found that undigested carbs causes bacterial overgrowth and increases the pressure in the abdomen. And it can be a cause of acid reflux. Hence, if you have lots of undigested carbs then it will make your digestive system bloated and gassy.
A low carb diet will reduce acid reflux symptom and also antibiotic treatment is helpful!
Limit alcohol intake- people who drink alcohol experience more severe heartburn and acid reflux. Studies have shown that lowering alcohol intake can reduce reflux symptoms.
Limit coffee intake- drinking too much coffee can weaken the lower esophagus sphincter and result in high acid reflux. Thus, the possible culprit here is caffeine and so having decaffeinated coffee can reduce reflux!
Chew gum- it has been found in a study, that chewing gum helps in reducing acidity in the esophagus. Gums that have bicarbonate appear to be effective against heartburn. More saliva production due to chewing gum helps in clearing the esophagus and reduces acid reflux.
You can also try few remedies at home to get instant relief.
Simple Home Remedies For Heartburn
Try Ginger– Add ginger in your meals and drinks however stay away from ginger ale as it is made with artificial flavor.
Sip Vinegar– Drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar after meal to get quick relief.
Licorice– Taking licorice root or supplements may help as it repair the damage to esophageal lining caused by the stomach acid.
Baking Soda– This popular kitchen remedy is very effective against heartburn as it neutralizes the stomach acid and give instant relief.
These home remedies may work whenever you feel tightening of chest or burning sensation after eating spicy foods. But, if the symptoms persist then consult a doctor. Moreover, do not take any medicine or home remedy without consulting a doctor.
If you experience mild cases of heartburn then you can prevent it by adopting lifestyle changes such as-
- Avoid lying down after a meal
- Wear loose-fitting clothes to prevent pressure on your abdomen
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- Quit smoking
Also, there is various food that results in acid reflux hence avoiding them or eating in a controlled manner can save you from heartburn. Some of these foods include-
- Fried food
- Tomato sauce
- Citrus fruit
If you take precautions then it will surely help in avoiding heartburn or reduce its symptoms. Lots of people have resolved it by making simple lifestyle changes. However, those who cannot reduce symptoms have to take the help of medication.
Surgery is needed in rare cases of heartburn or acid reflux. The most common surgery for this condition is Nissen fundoplication.
If you are facing heartburn or regular acid reflux then speak to your doctor. They can help you prevent symptoms by making lifestyle changes. They will advise you on what to eat and other diet plans. If the problem is not resolved with this, they will give you other necessary treatment.