Blog What Is Heartburn? Symptoms, Causes And Treatment Options

What Is Heartburn? Symptoms, Causes And Treatment Options

Heartburn is a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest caused by rising stomach acid. For most people, symptoms will come and go occasionally, while for others it’s a recurring problem. Either way, it’s important to understand what triggers heartburn, how to recognize its symptoms, and know how to treat and prevent it so it doesn’t spoil your day — there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription treatments for heartburn, as well as some lifestyle changes you can make to stop it occurring.

Read on, and you’ll find everything you need to know about heartburn.


What Is Heartburn?

What Is Heartburn

Heartburn and acid reflux are terms often used interchangeably; although one occurs due to the other, they mean different things. Acid reflux is the rising of acid from your stomach through your esophagus which runs through your chest — close to your heart — whereas heartburn is the burning sensation that occurs in your chest when this happens.

The severity of heartburn varies between sufferers. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish heartburn from other types of chest pain; however, you may find that certain foods, medications, and other factors trigger heartburn.

What Causes Heartburn?

What Causes Heartburn?

Heartburn is caused by acid reflux, which itself is caused by something called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD for short). Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid travels back up into the esophagus, triggering the painful, burning feeling in your chest (that’s heartburn). Your esophagus is not protected with a thick muscle lining like your stomach is. This means that substances can come back up through a valve when it becomes weak or doesn’t fully close.

While there are several potential causes of acid reflux and heartburn, the most common is a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter — a ring of muscles that act as a kind of valve, allowing food to enter the stomach but preventing acid from escaping. If this valve doesn’t perform as it should, acid can leak from the stomach and travel up into the esophagus.

There are several factors that can cause your lower esophageal sphincter to fail, such as:

  • Spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, or fatty foods
  • Smoking
  • Abdominal pressure caused by pregnancy
  • Being overweight
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Indigestion and gas (particularly after eating a large meal or lying down after eating)
  • Certain medications

In most cases, one or more than one of these factors combined contributes to the introduction of acid reflux and heartburn.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Heartburn?

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Heartburn

As the name suggests, the main symptom of heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest — around about where your heart is, just below the breast bone — as your stomach’s acidic contents move back up into the esophagus. Most of the time, symptoms can be attributed to eating or drinking a little too much, but there may be other underlying causes.

Common symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Feeling pain in your chest, especially when you bend over or lie down
  • Having a bitter or salty taste in the back of your throat
  • Finding it hard to swallow

Other (slightly less common) symptoms of heartburn include:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Hiccups
  • Chronic coughing

For most people, symptoms last just a few minutes, but in more severe cases heartburn can go on for several hours — disrupting your day or keeping you awake at night. This is why it’s so important to understand the triggers of heartburn and know how to prevent and treat it.

How Is Heartburn Diagnosed?

How Is Heartburn Diagnosed?

For mild, infrequent cases of heartburn that are usually linked to eating too much food, drinking too much alcohol, or another known trigger, there’s usually no need to visit a doctor as self-diagnosis is possible. However, if you don’t know what caused your heartburn, or it’s happening frequently and lasting for long periods, it may be necessary to seek medical advice.

You should definitely book an appointment with your doctor if you’re suffering any of the following symptoms, as this might be a sign of something a little more serious:

  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing (known as odynophagia or dysphagia)
  • Severe, unmanageable chest pain
  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in your poo
  • New onset symptoms, especially if you’re 45 or older

If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to undergo testing for a formal diagnosis. These tests may include:

  • An endoscopy: This involves a small camera being put down your throat so a specialist can view your upper GI tract and identify any issues.
  • An x-ray: After drinking a special solution, the lining of your esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine will be x-rayed, letting doctors know if there are any defects that might indicate a digestive system issue.
  • Esophageal motility testing (esophageal manometry): An esophageal manometry involves a catheter that is put into your esophagus and measures pressure and movement.

How Can Heartburn Be Treated?

How Can Heartburn Be Treated?

Luckily, most cases of heartburn are mild and perfectly treatable. As The Independent Pharmacy explains, heartburn can occur day and night, but a combination of both lifestyle remedies and medication can be very effective in alleviating and preventing symptoms.

Making just a few simple lifestyle changes can help to prevent — or at least reduce the severity of — heartburn. These lifestyle adjustments include:

  • Reducing the number of trigger foods in your diet
  • Eating several small meals throughout the day rather than 3 larger meals
  • Taking your time when eating
  • Raising your head when you sleep
  • Staying hydrated between meals
  • Avoiding eating or drinking in the hours before you go to sleep
  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker

While these lifestyle changes will certainly help you to swerve heartburn symptoms, it may sometimes be necessary to seek treatment — particularly if your heartburn is causing serious discomfort. Medicine options include:

  • Antacids: These help with balancing stomach acid for rapid relief of mild heartburn symptoms. Antacids can usually be bought over-the-counter, and include products such as Pepto-Bismol and Alka-Seltzer.
  • H2 blockers: Although Histamine-2 (H2) blockers don’t work as quickly as antacids, they might offer more lasting relief. Some H2 blockers are available over the counter (such as Cimetidine and Famotidine), while others may need to be prescribed.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These are potent stomach acid inhibitors, and should be considered when you have severe or persistent symptoms. Over-the-counter versions include Prilosec and Nexium.

Can Ayurveda Reduce Heart Burn?

Yes!! Ayurveda can reduce heartburn to a considerable extent. You just have to know the steps to reduce the heartburn to a considerable extent. Ensure that you follow the process with complete ease. Some of the key factors that you should know here are as follows:-  

1. Dietary Changes

Dietary Changes

A core principle of Ayurveda is to reduce the consumption of foods that aggravate the pitta. These foods include spicy, sour, and acidic foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and fried foods, as well as excessive alcohol and coffee.  

You should be well aware of it while shaping your diet in perfect order. Follow a diet that can assist you in meeting your goals with absolute ease. Keep the process in perfect shape while meeting your objectives with ease.  

2. Eat Soothing Foods

Eat Soothing Foods

In contrast, incorporating some soothing foods like cucumber, coconut water, Yogurt melons, and leafy vegetables can assist you in specifying Pitta. You should ensure that you select the best food items for your consumption.  

Your food habits matter a lot when you want to reduce the heartburn. Ensure that you must not make your selection on the incorrect end. Keep the process in perfect order while meeting your needs.  

3. Herbal Remedies

Herbal Remedies

Certain herbs, such as ginger, Fennel seeds, licorice root, and long pepper, can reduce heartburn to a considerable extent. However, you should not make your selection in the incorrect direction. You should not make your selection incorrectly while reaching your needs with complete ease.  

Most of the time, these are consumed in teas, powder, and decoc forms. You should not make things too complex from your end while reaching your needs with absolute ease. Additionally, it can reduce your heartburn to a considerable extent.  

4. Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle Modifications

Stress is one of the major factors for heartburn. You should be well aware off it while reaching your goals with absolute ease. Keep the process in perfect parity with one another while reaching your health solutions with ease.  

Yoga and meditation are the two important aspects that can reduce your heart burn to a considerable extent. You should be well aware of it while reaching your goals with absolute ease. 

Don’t let heartburn rule your life. It’s important to understand the causes and triggers of heartburn, make lifestyle changes to prevent heartburn from occurring regularly, and where necessary, find the right treatment to keep your symptoms at bay.

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