Heartburn is the burning sensation that starts to build in the upper abdomen, that is, behind the breast bone which makes you feels as if your chest is on fire. The uncomfortable warm and burning sensation and the chest pain might move from diaphragm to the throat and is usually accompanied with a sour taste and a sensation of the food re-entering your mouth. The pain usually gets worse when he/she lies down or bends and usually occurs immediately after eating a heavy meal. This feeling might last for a few minutes or even few hours.
This condition is medically known as Acid indigestion or Pyrosis.
Causes of Heartburn
Heartburn is caused when stomach/gastric acid refluxes back up into the esophagus. This can happen due to various reasons:
- When ( LES) the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve that keeps the gastric acids in the stomach, is relaxed or weakened and doesn’t function properly, gastric acids seep back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.
- Heartburn, the commonest symptom of GERD/ Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease.
- Foods such as chocolates, fatty and fried foods, coffee, peppermint, alcohol, sugars can relax or weaken the LES.
- Eating heavy meals or shortly before going to bed
- A hiatal hernia
- Pressure on the stomach like obesity, tight clothes, lifting, frequent bending over etc
- Stress can not only increase the acid production but slow down the emptying of the stomach
- Certain medications
Here are a few self-care remedies that can relieve your heartburn. All you need to do is make some changes in your diet and lifestyle;
- Eating smaller or frequent meals instead of the typical three large meals will help in preventing excess production of stomach acids.
- Never go to bed with a full stomach. Eating evening meals at least 3 hours before going to bed can decrease the acid levels, before heartburn is more likely to occur.
- Raising the head of your bed several inches which means your head is elevated which in turn prevents acid reflux during night.
- Avoid those foods triggering heartburn- Coffee, fatty foods, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, peppermint, onions, citrus fruits/juices, chocolates, tomatoes
- Quit Smoking- Nicotine in cigarettes can weaken the LES, the valve that controls the opening between the esophagus and stomach and prevents the gastric acids from entering the esophagus.
- Lose Weight- obesity or over-weight means more pressure on stomach leading to heartburn. So losing weight can relieve you from heartburn as there is lesser pressure on your stomach.
- Drink Warm Liquids- Drinking a glass of herbal tea or lukewarm water after a meal can flush out stomach acids.
Most people suffer from mild heartburn occasionally after a meal which is only a nuisance however, Chronic heartburn occurring from several times a day or even several times a week could lead to severe complications hence it’s always better to seek advice from your doctor before any complications.