Commonly referred to as indigestion, heartburn is a burning sensation that you may feel in your chest, with associated chest pain left side. Heartburn in itself is not a disease but rather a reflux action emanating from the stomach. It is a digestive health condition in which your stomach acid comes into direct contact with the esophagus lining, causing irritation. You feel the irritation as a burning sensation that can extend beyond your chest area to your neck and throat. You can therefore consider heartburn or the associated chest pain as gastro reflux (gastric acid reflux), in which case, it is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as gerd. Apart from being a gerd symptom, reflex disease can also be a sign of coronary heart disease. This means that to effectively treat or manage heartburn, the actual cause must be ascertained.
Signs of acid reflux vary from one individual to the other. What you may experience is not necessarily what another person with acidity problem may experience. However, the common symptoms of heartburn are:
- A burning sensation in the chest – You experience a burning sensation in the chest, usually after a heavy meal. It mostly starts with a burning in the stomach, a possible indication that the level of your stomach acid is high. You feel the burning sensation rising to your chest, a feeling that lasts between few minutes to several hours.
- A burning sensation in the throat – You may experience this symptom if acid reflux reaches your throat. The feeling extends to your neck with increased saliva in your mouth. You may feel nausea and may want to vomit.
- Bitter taste – Reflux of stomach contents reaching the back of your throat makes have a bitter taste in the mouth and you may not eat or swallow anything.
- Coughing – You are likely to cough if you aspire gastro reflux reaches your esophagus.
Just in the same way that reflux symptoms vary so are causes of heartburn factors. Causes of heartburn factors because cause for heartburn remains the same; reflux of stomach acid. The factors that lead to gariscon include:
- Defective esophageal sphincter – The lower esophageal sphincter is tasked with the duty of keeping stomach acid in the stomach. For various reasons, it can be weakened and fail to perform its duty, allowing reflexed acid to pass through back.
- Food – Eating certain foods have a negative impact on the lower esophageal sphincter. In particular, drinking coffee, eating fast foods, eating chilies, consuming alcohol and chocolate weaken the sphincter, leading to gerd.
- Stress – Stress has the effect of increasing the production of stomach acid, which leads to acid reflux.
- Heart disease – Heart problems such as regular heart attacks can cause heartburn. It occurs that at times most patients confuse heart-related gariscon with gerd, resorting to self-medication, which can lead to chronic heartburn.
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy heartburn increases during the last phase of second trimester, a time when pregnant women believe that the baby is growing hair.
- Lifestyle – Your lifestyle can contribute to the occurrence of gastro reflex. Being obese is a major cause.
- Genes – You can inherit gerd if one of your parents or both have the condition.
While you may experience mild indigestion that you can manage with simple over the counter antacids, having gerd can be serious. This is because the possibility of your esophagus being scarred, leading to cancer of the esophagus. While cures for acid reflex are available, they are mostly for management purposes. In addition to the cures, heartburn remedies are also available:
- Diet – Consider switching to a reflex diet free of chilies and other foods that weaken your lower esophageal sphincter. Eat your food in smaller meals rather than a daily three-course meal to avoid filling your stomach at a go. Take your time to eat and do not go to bed on a full stomach.
- Take Pillow – Consider resting your head on a pillow as your sleep to prevent reflux while asleep.
- Stop smoking – Consider doing away with smoking because the nicotine contained in cigarettes weakens your sphincter.
- Reduce your weight – Being overweight increases chances of suffering from gerd. Consider taking measures to reduce your weight.
- Dressing – Make it a routine to wear looser-fitting dresses, especially at the mid section to avoid pushing up stomach acid.