Heartburns are burning pains or discomfort in the upper – chest and mid-chest possibly involving the neck and throat that may worsen when lying down or bending over, after eating, and in the evening.
Occasionally heartburn is common and no cause for alarm, most people can manage the discomfort of the heartburn on their own with lifestyle changes and over the counter medications.
Being overweight or pregnant can increase your risk of experiencing heartburns, certain foods and drinks can trigger heartburn in some people. Such foods are:-
- Large or Fatty meals
- Fried food
- Spicy food
- Citrus products
- Tomatoes produce such as ketchup
- Carbonated beverages
- Coffee and other caffeinated beverages
- A burning pain in the chest which usually occur after eating and may occur at night
- Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
- Pains that worsen when lying down or bending over in the chest
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus). Normally, when one swallows, a band of muscle around the bottom of the esophagus (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into the stomach then the muscles tighten again.
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If the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus (acid reflux) and causes heartburn. The acid backup may be worsened when you bend over or lying down.
Heartburn that occurs frequently and interferes with your routine is considered gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD treatment may require prescription medications and occasionally surgery or other procedures. GERD can seriously damage your esophagus or lead to precancerous changes in the esophagus called Barrett’s esophagus.
Lifestyle changes can help ease heartburn
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes: it put pressure on your abdomen and lowers the esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking: They both decrease the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly.
- Avoid large meals: instead, eat many small meals throughout the day.
- Avoid lying down immediately after a meal: wait at least three hours upward.
- Avoid food that tigers heartburn: All listed above.
- Avoid late meals: Eating late at night can lead to several health hazards like heartburn and heart disease.
Note: if you regularly experience heartburn at night or while trying to sleep you should elevate the head of your bed, if that is not possible insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up. Raising your head with additional pillows usually isn’t effective.
In conclusion, heartburn itself can accompany other symptoms of a heart attack thus, it is advisable to seek immediate help from your doctor or medical practitioner if you are experiencing severe chest pains or pressure, especially when combined with other signs and symptoms such as pain in the arm or jaw, difficulty breathing. Chest pain may be a symptom of a heart attack too.
Make an appointment with your doctor if your heartburn occurs more than twice a week, you have difficulty swallowing, and symptoms persist despite the use of over the counter medications, you have difficulty eating and weight loss because of poor appetite.
By: Peace Chigozie