• Heartburn is a common condition caused by stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus and throat.
• Symptoms of heartburn include burning sensations in the chest or throat (sometimes with an acidic taste) and difficulty swallowing.
• Risk factors for heartburn include dietary habits such as eating large meals, fatty foods, spicy foods, and drinks with caffeine.
• The best way to treat heartburn is by making lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding trigger foods and quitting smoking if you are a smoker, taking over-the-counter medications, and more.
If you’ve ever experienced a burning sensation in your chest after eating a spicy meal, you’ve likely had heartburn. Unfortunately, Heartburn is an all-too-common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. But what exactly is it? How can we prevent it? Here’s everything you need to know about heartburn.
What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn, or acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus and throat. This happens because the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus relax, allowing acid to flow back up.
Certain foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, and fried food can trigger heartburn. However, some people suffer from heartburn without eating anything that would typically cause it. Stress and anxiety can also increase your chances of getting heartburn.
Symptoms of Heartburn
The most common heartburn symptoms are burning sensations in the chest or throat (sometimes accompanied by an acidic taste) and difficulty swallowing.
Other symptoms include chest pain after eating or drinking, bloated or full after meals, nausea, and burping. If you experience any of these symptoms regularly for more than two weeks, contact your doctor for further evaluation.
A less common symptom of heartburn is tooth loss. This happens because acid reflux can erode the teeth. In rare cases, it can result in cavities and gum disease. To avoid this, you need to get tooth implants for any teeth you’ve lost. These implants are resistant to acid reflux and other conditions.
Heartburn can happen to anybody, but there are risk factors that can increase your chances of getting it:
Your diet can play an essential role in your risk of heartburn. Eating large meals, fatty foods, spicy foods, and drinks with caffeine may all lead to increased acid reflux. Certain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, may also be linked to worsening heartburn symptoms. If you suffer from regular bouts of heartburn, try adjusting your diet to see if it makes a difference in your symptoms.
Certain lifestyle habits may also increase your risk of experiencing heartburn. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can both contribute to acid reflux-like symptoms. In addition, lying down after eating or eating before bedtime can cause stomach acids to travel up into the esophagus—a common trigger for acid reflux symptoms. If you are prone to experiencing heartburn, try avoiding these activities or limiting them whenever possible.
Some medical conditions can increase your risk of chronic acid reflux and its associated symptoms. For example, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one condition linked to increased nighttime reflux episodes in patients suffering from OSA-related breathing issues while sleeping.
In addition, untreated asthma may lead to increased gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) episodes.
Specific anatomical changes in the body caused by obesity may also contribute to GERD symptoms due to their effects on stomach acids and muscular activity in the digestive tract. Talk with your doctor about any underlying medical conditions that could contribute to your frequent bouts of heartburn or other digestive issues.
Treatment Options for Heartburn
The most effective way to treat heartburn is to change lifestyle habits such as avoiding trigger foods (mentioned above), quitting smoking if you are a smoker, cutting back on caffeine intake, and making sure to eat smaller meals throughout the day than one large meal at dinnertime.
Additionally, many over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, can help reduce symptoms while you adjust your diet and lifestyle habits. In severe cases where lifestyle modifications do not provide relief, doctors may recommend medications such as proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers which reduce stomach acid production to prevent irritation of the digestive tract lining caused by acid refluxing into the esophagus or throat area.
Heartburn is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide, but it doesn’t have to stop you from living life to its fullest! By making small changes in lifestyle habits like quitting smoking or limiting caffeine intake and taking over-the-counter medications like antacids when needed, most people can quickly and easily find relief from their heartburn symptoms without having to resort to prescription medication unless absolutely necessary. So don’t let those pesky heartburn pains take away your joy—take control today!