1. What and why: what is heartburn and what are its causes?
2. Identification: symptoms of heartburn
3. Heartburn vs. Heart Attack: Distinguishing Between the Two
4. Treat it at home: Immediate heartburn relief
5. Long Term Relief: Lifestyle Changes to Treat Heartburn
6. Frequently asked questions
What and why: what is heartburn and what are its causes?
A burning sensation and pain in the middle of the chest are what heartburn feels like. Heartburn is a Acid reflux symptom, a condition in which stomach acid travels up the esophagus.
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a valve-like muscle structure that is located at the point where the esophagus and stomach meet. The LES closes to prevent stomach acid from flowing into the esophagus. When it doesn’t do this job, stomach acid travels up the esophagus, causing acid reflux and heartburn.
Acid reflux and heartburn can be triggered by certain diet and lifestyle problems. Spicy, fatty, and fried foods are known to cause acid reflux. Onions, citrus products, tomato products can sometimes also contribute to the problem. Obesity is also a cause of heartburn. Regular and excessive consumption of alcohol, carbonated beverages, caffeinated beverages, and smoking are also causes of acid reflux. Certain medications can also lead to acid reflux and therefore antacids are often prescribed by doctors along with medications such as aspirin and antibiotics.
Heartburn is common in pregnant women. In some cases, heartburn can be the result of a serious condition known as a hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm into the chest.
Identification: symptoms of heartburn
Heartburn is often accompanied by several other symptoms, besides a burning sensation in the center of the chest, just behind the sternum.
- Other symptoms of heartburn include:
- Chest pain when bending over or lying down
- A sour, bitter, or sour taste in the mouth
- Burning in the throat
- Bloated feeling
- Persistent cough or hoarseness
Heartburn vs. Heart Attack: Distinguishing Between the Two
Heartburn can often be mistaken for a heart attack, or vice versa, due to overlapping symptoms. Chest pain is the main and most common symptom of both health problems. Chest pain having a burning sensation is heartburn, while heart-related chest pain brings about tightness and pressure in the chest area.
Heart attack symptoms may also include shortness of breath, sweating, and paleness of the patient.
If you have chest pain and you are unsure of the cause, it is best to contact a doctor right away.
Treat It At Home: Immediate Heartburn Relief
1. Sometimes tight clothing can be the cause of acid reflux and heartburn. Wearing loose clothing can provide relief.
2. Instead of lying down, standing up or lying up can help relieve symptoms of heartburn.
3. For instant relief, antacid powder such as Eno can be used. However, Eno or any other similar product will not work for this problem or prevent further heartburn episodes in the future. A mixture of baking soda and water can also be consumed as a substitute for antacids that you brought with you.
4. Ginger works like a charm when it comes to instant heartburn relief. It can be included in the diet by adding it to teas. Again, ginger must be taken in small doses and can help with heartburn, but will not prevent heartburn in the future.
5. While this may not sound like intuitive, for many people, drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with water helps to relieve heartburn symptoms.
6. Chewing gum is also known to help relieve symptoms of heartburn. It helps lower the amount of acid in the esophagus. Look for flavors like mint and ginger that have calming properties and avoid peppermint as it could do more harm than good.
7th Drink cold milk is known as one of the best solutions for quick heartburn relief.
8. Licorice is a herb found in parts of Europe and Asia. Its root contains glycyrrhizin, which can help with heartburn. Please note that liquorice can cause side effects if consumed in large quantities.
9. Naturally watery and alkaline foods such as banana, melon and cucumber can also provide quick relief by neutralizing the acid.
10. Although citrus products are known to be triggers of acid reflux and heartburn, a small amount of diluted lemon juice and honey can help provide relief.
11. Finally, OTC antacids can help provide immediate relief. H2 blocker drugs are effective for acid-related problems.
Long-term Relief: Lifestyle Changes to Treat Heartburn
While the above Home remedies help with heartburn Symptoms they have no effect in preventing heartburn. The only way to prevent future episodes of heartburn is through making certain lifestyle changes.
Make sure you have a break of 2-3 hours between eating and lying down. Eat smaller portions rather than larger portions throughout the day. Eating slowly can also help with heartburn.
Know your heartburn triggers and avoid them.
Heartburn can be a serious problem in obese people, so maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in treating heartburn.
Smoking can weaken the LES, and therefore, smoking cessation can have long-term heartburn benefits. It would also make sense to avoid alcohol.
Sometimes heartburn can be triggered by exercise. To prevent this from happening, plan your meals and exercise so that there is at least 2 hours between them.
When taken in a controlled manner, antacids and other drugs can keep acid production under control.
frequently asked Questions
Q. Can heartburn be a sign of something serious?
A. Infrequent and occasional heartburn isn’t a sign of anything serious, but if you have heartburn regularly, see your doctor. They can be signs of a chronic illness like GERD that can progress into more serious, even life-threatening conditions.
Q. What is GERD?
A. If you experience acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week, you may have developed a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If left untreated, GERD can lead to more serious complications. In some GERD cases, patients have difficulty swallowing, and they may even develop breathing problems such as a chronic cough.
Changing your diet and lifestyle can help prevent or treat the symptoms of GERD. In most cases this will work, but surgery may also be required in some cases.
Q. When should I see a doctor?
A. Get medical help right away if the patient is sweating, experiences chest tightness, or becomes pale. If you are unable to tell whether the symptoms are heartburn or a heart attack, contact your doctor immediately. Also, see your doctor if you have heartburn twice a week or more.
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