What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a form of indigestion felt as a burning sensation in the chest, caused by acid regurgitation into the esophagus.
Heartburn has heart as part of its name but it does not have anything to do with heart in fact, it does not affect it.
It just a burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth
Heartburn can also be described as a painful burning feeling just below or behind the breastbone.
Most of the time it comes from the esophagus, the pain often rises in your chest from your stomach. It may also spread to your neck or throat.
Causes of Heartburn
Heartburn is a condition that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus that is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach, it usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down.
The feeling can last for a few minutes or a few hours.
How does pregnancy cause heartburn?
Changes in Hormones
During pregnancy some hormones increases while some decreases which means there would be changes hormone levels. Some may act as a muscle relaxant that helps to prepare your body for childbirth. The downside is the increase of some hormones may also relax the lower esophageal sphincter. That's the valve responsible for keeping stomach acid from moving up into the esophagus, where it doesn't belong. If the acid moves into that area it can irritate the esophagus causing heartburn.
If you have ever had a large meal or eaten too fast, there’s a good chance you have experienced heartburn afterwards. Think about it; your stomach has to work overtime because you added too much food, too quickly.
It's healthier to have 3 small meals a day that are supplemented by healthy snacks whenever you feel hunger coming on. You won't get over-full, which will prevent your stomach from overproducing the acid that causes heartburn. And, slow down. Put your fork and knife down between bites, and chew your food 20 times before swallowing2. It's also important to avoid eating too close to your bedtime.
Some Medicines can cause heartburn, such medicine are:
- Anticholinergics (used for sea sickness)
- Beta-blockers for high blood pressure or heart disease
- Calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure
- Dopamine-like drugs for Parkinson disease
- Progestin for abnormal menstrual bleeding or birth control
- Sedatives for anxiety or sleep problems (insomnia)
- Theophylline (for asthma or other lung diseases)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Alcohol, particularly red wine
- Aspirin or ibuprofen
- Black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Cigarette smoking
- Citrus fruits and products, such as oranges and orange juice
- Coffee and caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda
- Fatty foods or spicy foods (such as pizza, chili and curry)
- Lying down too soon after eating
- Overweight or obese
- The carbonated gas in soda puts extra pressure on the esophageal sphincter, promoting reflux.
Symptoms/Signs of Heartburn
- A feeling that food is coming back into the mouth
- An acidic or bitter taste at the back of the throat
- An increase in severity of pain when you are lying down or bending over
- Heartburn usually consists of a sensation of burning or discomfort after eating, located in the middle of the lower chest underneath the sternum (breastbone).
How to diagnose Heartburn
Your doctor may take to find out.
Diagnosing Acid Reflux as a test
Sometimes a blood test may be carried out to check for anaemia, which can be a sign of internal bleeding.
How to Prevent Heartburn
- A full stomach can put extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into the esophagus.
- Do not eat within two to three hours before bedtime.
- Do not wear belts or clothes that are tight fitting around the waist.
Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the esophagus. Clothing that can cause problems include tight-fitting belts and slenderizing undergarments.
- Do not smoke.
Nicotine relaxes the esophageal sphincter. Smoking also stimulates the production of stomach acid. Read this article to learn other ways smoking can worsen heartburn.
- Don't drink alcohol. If you still want to drink alcoholic beverages, follow these tips.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Eat foods that rarely cause heartburn and avoid those foods that will often cause heartburn.
- Elevate your head a few inches while you sleep.
- Limit your intake of acid-stimulating foods and beverages.
- Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the LES, increasing the chances of refluxed food.
- Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can place bricks, blocks or anything that's sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You can also use a wedge-shaped pillow, to elevate your head. Read this article for more tips on easing nighttime heartburn.
- Maintain a reasonable weight.
- Obesity increases abdominal pressure, which can then push stomach contents up into the esophagus. According to some statistics, approximately 35 of overweight persons experience heartburn. The good news is that for many people, as little as a 10 percent decrease in weight will improve their heartburn symptoms.
While stress hasn't been linked directly to heartburn, it is known that it can lead to behaviors that can trigger heartburn. Follow these relaxation tips to alleviate stress, and thus make stress-related heartburn less likely.
Treatment for Heartburn
- Antacids reduce the effect of the acid in your stomach. They can provide fast, short-term relief. Many OTC medicines combine different antacids.
- H2 blockers reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. While they don’t relieve symptoms right away, H2 blockers relieve symptoms for a longer period of time than antacids. They usually start to work within an hour. Medicine like Ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid).
- Proton pump inhibitors:They reduce your body’s production of acid.Medicine likeOmeprazole (brand name: Prilosec) and lansoprazole (brand name: Prevacid 24HR)
Heartburn Home Remedies/Home Cure
- Chew gum
The Journal of Dental Research conducted a study that showed people with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or chronic heartburn, experienced relief when they chewed a piece of sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This is because chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands, and increases the flow of saliva. Any acid that has built up in the gut is diluted and washed away or cleared out more quickly. The clearance of acid then improves the symptoms of GERD. It is possible that the same school of thought could be applied to occasional heartburn as well. It’s our regular saliva that we swallow that actually makes normal bouts of reflux here and there completely painless.
What you need
1 piece of sugar-free gum
How to use it
After a meal, pop in a piece of sugar-free gum and chew for 30 minutes to help ward off heartburn.
- Eat a banana or an apple
Bananas contain natural antacids that can act as a buffer against acid reflux. If you want to try out the simplest home remedies for heartburn first, try letting a few bananas ripen up nicely and eating one every day. Another option is to try an apple a day. Slice one up and eat it a couple of hours before bedtime to relieve or prevent discomfort.
- Ginger Tea
Gingerroot can help ease up a number of stomach woes, from nausea to acid reflux. Sipping a cup of fresh tea about 20 minutes before a meal can help calm down your tummy and act as an acid buffer.
What you need
3 quarter sized slices of gingerroot
2 cups of water
Slice up 3 quarter sized pieces of gingerroot and simmer gently in 2 cups of water, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the ginger pieces, or leave them in, pour into a glass, and drink all of it about 20 minutes before a meal.
- Almonds Snack
What you will need
3 to 4 almonds
How to use it
Directly after every meal, every snack, basically every time you ingest something, eat 3-4 almonds afterwards. There’s no need to eat more, unless of course you want to munch on some more, but keep in mind that in excess some people have found almonds trigger heartburn, kind of like how they help tension headaches but can trigger migraines.
. Complications of Heartburn
Heartburn is not a serious sickness it it is treated on time but if you have heartburn frequently, it can lead to esophagitis (an inflamed lining of the esophagus). If esophagitis becomes severe, your esophagus might narrow and you might have bleeding or trouble swallowing. If you get more than occasional heartburn, it may be a symptom of acid reflux disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), an inflamed stomach lining (gastritis), hiatal hernia or peptic ulcer.
Natural therapy for PID/UTI