What causes heartburn and how can you remedy it?
You just finished dinner, and now you are struck with an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest and throat. It almost feels as if you are choking, but you are not. It sounds like a nasty case of heartburn. Heartburn occurs when some of the acid from your stomach gets pushed back up into your esophagus. This happens when the muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus (the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES) either opens too frequently, or it does not close tightly enough.
What Causes Heartburn?
There are several known causes: overeating, obesity, smoking, and even certain foods and beverages are contributors. Some food and beverages that contribute to heartburn include alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, and highly acidic food and drinks.
How Can You Prevent Heartburn?
A few simple tips can help you prevent heartburn.
- Avoid overeating. This is one of the easiest way to prevent heartburn. Try to eat a few smaller meals rather than three large meals during the day.
- Lose weight. One of the reasons obesity causes heartburn is the added pressure on the stomach, but adding exercise to your day to day life will also improve your overall health.
- Stop smoking. Smoking relaxes the LES, so quitting is another great way to prevent heartburn.
Again, if you stop smoking it will also increase your overall health. Avoid certain food and beverages. It may take a little time to identify which foods and drinks trigger your heartburn, but once you can identify them it is much easier to cut them out of your diet. Keeping a food journal may help. Although heartburn can be very painful, it can also be prevented.
Most of the causes can be avoided by simple changes in your day to day life.
Please be aware that long term heartburn can cause other problems, and that some other conditions can have symptoms very similar to heartburn. If your symptoms persist, please see a healthcare professional.