Heartburn is a feeling of burning, warmth, heat, or pain that often starts in the upper abdomen just beneath the lower breastbone (sternum). This discomfort may spread in waves upward into your throat, and you may have a sour taste in your mouth. Heartburn is sometimes called indigestion, acid regurgitation, sour stomach, or pyrosis.
Causes of heartburn
Heartburn occurs when food and stomach juices back up (reflux) into the esophagus, which is the tube that leads from the throat to the stomach. Common causes include:
* Incomplete closing of the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
* Foods and drinks, such as chocolate, peppermint, fried foods, fatty foods, or sugars; and coffee, carbonated drinks, or alcohol. Once heartburn occurs, the backflow of stomach juices can cause the esophagus to become sensitive to other foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, garlic, and onions. Eating these foods may cause more heartburn.
* Pressure on the stomach caused by obesity, frequent bending over and lifting, tight clothes, straining with bowel movements, vigorous exercise, and pregnancy.
* Smoking and use of other tobacco products.
* Prescription and nonprescription medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, iron, potassium, antihistamines, or sleeping pills.
* A hiatal hernia , which occurs when a small portion of the stomach pushes upward through the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the lungs from the abdomen.
* Stress, which can increase the amount of acid your stomach makes and cause your stomach to empty more slowly.
How to treat heartburn
# Change your eating habits.
* It’s best to eat several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
* After you eat, wait 2 to 3 hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good idea.
* Chocolate, mint, and alcohol can make heartburn worse. They relax the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
* Spicy foods, foods that have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make heartburn symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get better.
# Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
# If you get heartburn at night, raise the head of your bed 6in. to 8in. by putting the frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows does not work.)
# Do not wear tight clothing around your middle. Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help.
# Antacids such as Tums, Mylanta, or Maalox neutralize some of the stomach acid for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether the stomach is full or empty. Liquid or dissolving antacids usually work faster than tablet forms.
# Some antacids, such as Gaviscon, have a foaming agent (alginate) that acts as a barrier between stomach acid and the esophagus.
Labels: General Health