Causes And Prevention Of Heartburn

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux is a condition where various stomach contents go through the esophagus. This results in a burning sensation in the lower chest. The esophagus connects the mouth and the stomach. It consists of muscles which are responsible for pressing food down to the stomach rhythmically. Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a circular muscle located at the intersection between the stomach and the esophagus. It prevents food from refluxing. In addition, there is a flat muscle right across the diaphragm which plays a huge role in keeping stomach components in the stomach.

Inside the stomach, acids, food, and enzymes are blended together to enable digestion. The stomach is lined with a thick wall which prevents the digestive acids from penetrating the stomach hence causing inflammation. Unfortunately, the esophagus does not have a protective lining. This means that once an acid reflux occurs, the esophagus is likely to suffer inflammation.

What Causes Heartburn?

Heartburn is believed to be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It can be caused by various risk factors which include:

Hiatal hernia 

A hiatal hernia is a condition where a part of the stomach reclines on the chest as opposed to the abdomen. This affects the normal functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle and can result in acid reflux. Hiatal hernias cause failure of the LES which causes heartburn.

Medicine, Food, and Drinks

Certain medication, acidic foods, and drinks have a high chance of increasing production of stomach acid. These include:

  • Chocolate
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Lemons, pineapples, and oranges
  • Tomatoes and kale

Consuming foods which contain high levels of fat can also hinder the normal functioning of the lower esophageal muscle. When this happens, the muscle tends to relax hence allowing acid reflux in the esophagus.

Obesity

Obesity can also cause undue pressure on the abdomen hence hindering the LES normal functions. 

Diseases

Esophagus related diseases can manifest with heartburn as a symptom. These include:

  • Sarcoidosis
  • Scleroderma

Pregnancy increases pressure in the abdominal area which affects the normal functioning of the LES hence causing acid reflux.

How to Prevent Heartburn

Heartburn can be prevented by avoiding the trigger factors. It is important though to note that what works for one person may not work for another. This condition can be prevented by using natural remedies, prescription drugs, and lifestyle change. Below are some preventive measures.

1. Antacids

Mild heartburn can be relieved with over the counter antacids. Magnesium oxide is an ingredient in many over the counter antacids. Magnesium-based antacids are generally safe for use and quite effective in treating heartburn. In severe cases, the doctor may recommend proton pump inhibitors. These are drugs which have a prolonged effect of reducing the production of gastric acid. 

2. Strive to Maintain a Manageable weight

Obesity is believed to be among the leading causes of heartburn. Losing weight not only prevents heartburn, it is good for general well-being.

3. Avoid lying down immediately after eating

Allow digestion to take place before lying down. Experts recommend eating at least three hours before sleeping. 

4. Avoid trigger foods and drinks

These include:

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods and fruits
  • Fatty foods

Additionally, do not consume food in large portions. Instead, eat smaller portions frequently. Large amounts of food put pressure on the LES muscle resulting in acid reflux.

5. Change medication

If medication is the suspected cause of heartburn, consult the doctor for a review. A doctor is able to identify any trigger ingredients and recommend an alternative medication.

Some medication is believed to disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive procedure and the LES muscle. These include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Painkillers
  • Calcium blockers and Non-steroid drugs

Many people swear by home remedies such as:

Aloe Juice

The aloe plant produces this juice which has been used the world over to heal numerous conditions. Drinking a half a cup of this juice before meals help prevent heartburn. Do not over indulge in aloe juice because it also exhibits laxative properties.

Bicarbonate of Soda

Bicarbonate of soda has alkaline properties which help neutralize stomach acid. Drinking a mixture of a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and a glass of water is quite helpful. This mixture has a nasty taste but is very effective.

Other home remedies include:

  • Ginger tea
  • A mixture of organic apple cider and water
  • Apples and bananas

Conclusion

Exercising the above preventive measures can help prevent heartburn. Simple lifestyle adjustments such as exercising, consuming a healthy diet, and drinking enough water can help rid one of the uncomfortable feeling of heartburn.

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