What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is thought by many to be a disease in itself, but in actuality, it is a symptom. Heartburn is the burning sensation you feel in your throat and chest when stomach acid is splashed up into the esophagus. It can be caused by several ailments, including Acid Reflux and GERD, which is a chronic acid reflux disease.
What Causes Heartburn?
A number of different situations can cause heartburn. Acid Reflux disease can be caused by stomach abnormalities such as a hiatal hernia. Pregnancy causes drastic changes in the body, which can result in heartburn. Smoking has a number of negative side effects, any of which can lead to acid reflux. A number of potent foods can trigger it as well, including mint, alcohol, garlic, citrus, carbonation in beverages and fatty foods. Certain medications can cause heartburn, such as iron and potassium supplements, some asthma medications and a range of other drugs.
Timing and position play large roles in heartburn. Eating large meals puts the body into a focus on digestion, which increases acid content in the stomach, making heartburn more likely. Anything that stretches or distends the stomach in this time will increase the odds of heartburn. This means exercise after eating is a probably cause. Changing position, such as doing sit-ups or lying down for bed, splash stomach acid into the esophagus during digestion.
Minor cases of heartburn can be treated with occasional antacid use. For more severe cases, drugs called proton pump inhibitors are recommended. These can still be purchased over the counter and work more effectively to reduce the acid production of the stomach.
For those with chronic heartburn, lifestyle changes can help significantly. Eating slowly, letting your meal digest before exercise or sleep and avoiding heartburn-inducing foods all help to cut back on occurrences.
For even stronger chronic cases of heartburn or acid reflux, some doctors will prescribe stronger versions of the over the counter drugs available. These stronger drugs will have greater, more immediate effects on damping heartburn. They work best in conjunction with lifestyle changes as well.
If nothing else works, it is possible surgery will be an option. Surgery is an invasive and dangerous procedure at the best of times, which means it is not an ideal option for treating minor cases of heartburn. Surgery should only be considered when lifestyle changes and medications in conjunction have little or no effect.