What You Need to Know About Heartburn
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest that can move up your neck and throat. This can be a symptom of many different conditions, including acid reflux, gastrointesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and even pregnancy.
When you are experiencing heartburn, you may also have a bitter or sour taste in the back of your throat. Heartburn can last from a few minutes to several hours. It often feels worse after you eat or when you lay down too quickly after eating.
What does heartburn feel like?
Heartburn typically feels like a burning in the center of your chest, behind your breastbone. When you have heartburn, you may also feel symptoms like:
* A burning feeling in your chest that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
* Pain in your chest when you bend over or lay down.
* A burning feeling in your throat.
* Difficulty swallowing.
What causes heartburn?
To know why heartburn happens, it can help to understand how your esophagus and stomach work. When you eat, the food passes down a long tube that connects your mouth and stomach. This tube is called the esophagus. At the bottom of the esophagus is a valve, called the esophageal sphincter. This valve opens to let food through and then closes to keep your stomach contents down. Inside your stomach is a very strong acidic mixture that starts the process of breaking down your food (digestion). Your stomach is a esophagus isn't able to hold this mixture without getting hurt.
Sometimes, the valve that separates your stomach and esophagus doesn't close properly, and some of the acidic mixture from your stomach goes back up the esophagus. This is called reflux. When you have reflux, you'll often feel the burning sensation that's heartburn. There are a few medical conditions that can cause reflux and make you feel heartburn, including:
* Hiatal hernia(when the stomach bulges up to the chest).
* Gastrointesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
* Certain medications, especially anti_inflammatory drugs and asprin.
Heartburn can also be caused by your eating habits_including the foods you eat, how close to bedtime you eat_and certain lifestyle habits.
What can trigger heartburn?
Heartburn can be triggered by many things that are a part of your daily life. For many people, heartburn can be caused by certain eating and lifestyle habits. These habits can involve things like eating large portions of food, eating too close to bedtime or even having high stress level.
Certain foods and drinks can also trigger heartburn for some people. Some foods and drinks that could trigger your heartburn can include:
* Citrus fruits.
* High_fat foods.
* Tomato_based products.
* Citrus juices.
* Caffeinated beverages.
* Carbonated beverages.
Your lifestyle habits can also play in part in why you might experience heartburn. These everyday factors often contribute a medical conditions that cause heartburn, like GERD or hiatal hernia. Some lifestyle habits that can trigger your heartburn include:
* Being overweight.
* Being a smoker.
* Having a high stress level.
* Wearing tight clothes and belts.
How is heartburn treated?
In most cases heartburn can be treated home with over_the_counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.
Over_the_counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and blockers.
What are prescription medications for heartburn?
If over_the_counter antacids and blockers do not relieve your heartburn, your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for other medicines, such as:
* Prescription_strength acid blockers:
Inprescription_strength(usually higher doses), Tagamet can generally relieve heartburn and treat GERD.
* Proton pump inhibitors:
These are drugs that block acid production more effectively. Proton pump inhibitors include Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix.
There are some proton pump inhibitors that can be purchased over_the_counter . Talk to your healthcare provider about these medications and what is the best for you.
Can I prevent heartburn?
You can often prevent and manage heartburn by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. These changes include:
* Not going to bed with a full stomach. Eat meals at least three to four hours before you lie down. This gives your stomach time to empty and reduces the chance of experiencing heartburn overnight.
* Avoid overeating. Cutting back on the size of your potions during meals can help lower your risk of heartburn. You can also try eating four or five small meals instead of three large ones.
* Slow down. Eating slowly can often help prevent heartburn put your fork down between bites and avoid eating too quickly.
* Wearing loose_fitting clothes. Belts and tight clothing can sometimes cause heartburn. By changing your wardrobe avoid these items, you might be able to prevent having heartburn.
* Avoiding certain foods. For many people, there are certain foods that trigger heartburn. Avoiding these foods can help. Try keeping a log of these foods so that you can watch out for them in the future. Your healthcare provider may also suggest that you avoid alcohol.
* Maintaining a healthy weight. Losing weight can often help relieve heartburn.
* Not smoking. Nicotine can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (the valve that seperates your stomach and esophagus). Not smoking is recommended for your general health, as well as the strength of this valve.
* Sleeping on your left side. This may help digestion and the removal of acid from your stomach and esophagus more quickly.
* Raising the head of your bed. so that your head and chest are higher than your feet. Place 6_inch blocks or books under the bed posts at the head of the bed. Do not use piles of pillows. They may cause you to put more pressure on your stomach and make your heartburn worse.
* Planning your exercise to avoid heartburn. Wait at least two hours after a meal before exercising. If you work out any sooner, you may trigger heartburn. You should also drink plenty of water before and during exercise water acids digestion and prevents dehydration.
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