Home Disorders Gastrointestinal Disorders The basics of heartburn and acid reflux

The basics of heartburn and acid reflux

Before you go to treat your heartburn and acid reflux problem, it is very important to know about the basics because that’ll help you to understand the problems that are and then you will be able to find the countermeasures which will help you to get relief from heartburn and acid reflux. Let’s find out the basic things about heartburn and acid reflux.

The basics

Heartburn is also known as acid indigestion. This is an irritation of the esophagus which is caused by acid that refluxes or comes back up from the stomach. When you swallow food it goes down the throat and through the esophagus to the stomach. There is a valve known as lower esophageal splinter (LES) which normally opens and then allows food into the stomach. Once the food passes through it, it closes again. Then your stomach releases strong acids to break down the food. In some cases if the LES opens too often or does not close tight enough, acids from your stomach can go back into the esophagus. Such acids can damage the esophagus. They cause the burning sensation we know as heartburn.

Most people have felt this burning sensation at one point of time or other. Millions of people suffer from heartburn or acid reflux symptoms every day. Even though it is not a serious health problem, however it can make life very uncomfortable for you. If you suffer from heartburn symptoms frequently and persistently, you should see your doctor because it can be an indicator of other serious problems like gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD. GERD can result in other complications and may also cause cancer in some people.

Causes of heartburn

Heartburn is generally caused by lifestyle and dietary factors. Such causes may relax the lower esophageal sphincter and allow it to open or they may also increase the amount of acid in the stomach or they may increase stomach pressure. Sometimes such factors may also make the esophagus more sensitive to acids. Let’s see what other dietary habits that cause heartburn.

Dietary habits

  • Eating large portions- if you eat large portions, you are more likely to suffer from heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Eating certain foods, like onions, chocolate, peppermint, high-fat or spicy foods, citrus fruits, garlic, and tomatoes or tomato-based products
  • Drinking some beverages, like citrus juices, alcohol, and caffeinated and carbonated drinks
  • Eating before bedtime-if you eat just before bedtime and simply go to bed without waiting, you’re more likely to suffer from heartburn.

Lifestyle Habits

  • Being overweight- overweight people generally have more tendency of suffering from heartburn and acid reflux
  • Smoking-people who smoke are at a higher risk of suffering from heartburn problem
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothing or belts- if such tightfitting clothing or belts are pressurizing your stomach, it may cause heartburn
  • Lying down or bending over, especially after eating- you should always wait for some time before you lie down after having food. Sometimes simply bending over may result in heartburn because it puts pressure on your stomach.

Medical Causes

  • Pregnancy- pregnant women may suffer from heartburn more frequently than other people
  • Bulging of the stomach into the chest cavity, also called hiatal hernia
  • GERD
  • Ulcers
  • Certain bacteria
  • Some medicines like antibiotics, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may cause heartburn more frequently. If you are taking any such medicines, it is always better to take something together which will control your possible heartburn problem.

References

1. Heartburn & Acid Reflux Remedy Report – New And Improved
2. Acid Reflux (GER & GERD) in Adults
3. Heartburn