Gastro-esophageal burning (heartburn) is caused by many factors, but in most cases acid reflux is to blame. I mean, part of the digestive juices that are normally found in the stmach make their way up into the esophagus (the pipe between the mouth and stomach). The stomach has a protective layer defending it against the action of acids, but the esophagus has no such defense. Therefore, stomach acid causes intense burning pain, sometimes so strong that people think they have a heart attack.
Of course, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, but burning pain, gastro-esophageal paint, can be easily confused with angina. Symptoms can be tricky even for physicians, especially because heart pain can be felt as stomach pain.
However, heartburn caused by acid reflux is often associated with other symptoms: acid taste in mouth, worsening pain when bending forward or backwards, nausea, intestinal gas, burning sensation when swallowing hot beverages and coughing during the night.
Eating big meals is the most common cause of heartburn, but not alone. You can also experience heartburn even without doing anything wrong. Here’s what you can do:
- Do not exaggerate. Gastric acids can be pushed up the esophagus when the stomach is too full. The more you fill your stomach, the more acid will climb up the esophagus. There can be many causes of heartburn, but the common patient is usually a person who eats too much and too fast.
- Fatty and fried foods tend to stay long in the stomach and determine the production of excess acid. You can avoid crises if you stay away from fatty meats and dairy products.
- Do not blame it on spices. Chili peppers and spices may seem the obvious cause, but it is not always true. Some people with heartburn can eat spicy food without suffering more.
- Oranges and lemons. Citrus seem to be a cause fo a disease like this, but citrus fruits contain acid that has a different composition than your stomach produces. Let the stomach choose!
- Take an antacid. Generally, antacids sold over the counter can bring a quick heartburn relief occasionally. These products help neutralize stomach acids, . You can take them before or after a meal.
- Milk can aggravate the situation. Milk, for the moment creates a relief sensation, but it does more harm than good given the fact that it stimulates stomach acid secretion. Milk contains fat, protein and calcium, all of them powerfull triggers of stomach acid secretion.
- Caffeine. Drinks with caffeine – coffee, tea, cola – can irritate an already inflamed esophagus. Caffeine relaxes the esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid carbonated drinks. All those little bubbles can expand your stomach, having the same effect as eating a big meal
- Check your medication. A heartburn source can be medication. Some prescription drugs, among them antidepressants, sedatives, antibiotics, heart and hypertension pills, painkillers and anti-inflammatory steroids may worsen heartburn.
- Allow hot beverages to cool. Very hot drinks may aggravate an already sensitive and inflamed esophagus. It takes time and if you want an extra coffee or tea, drink them only warm.
- Do not eat chocolate. Number one food you should avoid it if you have gastro-esophageal heartburn is chocolate. It is a double enemy for those with heartburn: it is composed almost entirely from fat and caffeine.