Heartburn is a sign of numerous illnesses, including GERD and acid reflux. Usually, it feels like a burning behind your breastbone in the middle of your chest. The duration of heartburn might range from a few minutes to several hours. With over-the-counter drugs, it is frequently treated at home.
What is Heartburn?
A burning sensation that can travel up your throat and up into your chest is known as heartburn. Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and even pregnancy might all have this as a symptom.
You can also get a sour or bitter taste in the back of your throat along with heartburn. From a few minutes to several hours, heartburn can last. After eating or when you lay down too soon after eating, it frequently feels worse.
How common is heartburn?
Periodic heartburn is very typical. Heartburn can, however, truly be a sign of GERD, a chronic acid reflux disorder, if it is frequent and severe. If you get heartburn frequently, you should consult your doctor.
What sensation does heartburn cause?
Heartburn often manifests as a burning sensation behind your breastbone in the middle of your chest. Along with these symptoms, heartburn can also cause you to experience:
A burning sensation in your chest that may persist for a short while or for a few hours.
When you lay down or bend over, your chest hurts.
The sensation of burning in your throat
A taste in the back of your mouth that is spicy, sour, acidic, or salty.
Having trouble swallowing.
What causes heartburn?
Understanding how your esophagus and stomach function can help you to understand why heartburn occurs. The food you consume travels down a long tube from your mouth to your stomach when you eat. The esophagus is the name of this tube. The esophageal sphincter, a valve, is located at the base of the esophagus. This valve opens to allow food to enter and then closes to keep the contents of your stomach down. An extremely potent acidic mixture that is present in your stomach begins to break down your food (digestion). Your stomach was made to accommodate this combo. Your esophagus, however, can’t contain this mixture without suffering damage.
The valve between your stomach and esophagus can malfunction occasionally, allowing some of the stomach’s acidic mixture to travel back up your esophagus. Reflux is a name for this. When you have reflux, you frequently get heartburn, which is a burning sensation. Several medical disorders, such as the following, might result in reflux and give you heartburn:
- Abdominal hernia (when the stomach bulges up into the chest).
- The disease of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
- Certain pharmaceuticals, including aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs.
You’re eating habits, including the foods you consume, the size of your meals, and how close to bedtime you eat, as well as some lifestyle choices, might also contribute to heartburn.
What could cause heartburn?
Heartburn can be brought on by a wide variety of everyday occurrences. Many people’s heartburn may be brought on by particular dietary and lifestyle choices. These behaviors can include overeating, eating too close to bedtime, or even being under a lot of stress.
For some people, specific meals and beverages might also cause heartburn. The following are some examples of foods and beverages that may give you heartburn:
- Fruit with citrus.
- Fattening foods.
- Items made of tomatoes.
- Orange juice.
- Caffeine-containing drinks.
- Carbonated liquids.
Your lifestyle choices may also contribute to the causes of your heartburn. These commonplace elements frequently play a role in heartburn-causing medical illnesses including GERD or hiatal hernia. Following are some examples of lifestyle choices that can cause heartburn:
- Weighing too much.
- cigarette smoking
- Being extremely stressed out.
- wearing belts and constrictive clothing
Treatment and Care
How is indigestion treated?
Heartburn is typically treatable at home with over-the-counter drugs and alterations to the lifestyle factors that contribute to the condition. Heartburn occurs frequently but is usually not serious. Contact your healthcare practitioner, however, if your heartburn is severe and persistent. This can be a symptom of a chronic illness like GERD. Other severe problems including esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus, and even cancer can develop as a result of GERD. Your doctor could occasionally recommend an endoscopy to look for underlying drug-related disorders. An endoscopy is a procedure where your digestive tract is examined using a flexible, lit device.
Antacids and acid blockers are commonly included in over-the-counter drugs for heartburn.
How does the heartburn remedy antacid work?
Antacids lessen stomach acid production, hence reducing heartburn. These drugs can also be used to treat indigestion, heartburn, and other stomach aches. Simethicone, a component of certain antacids, lessens gas.
Make sure you always abide by the directions on the packaging or ask your doctor how to use an antacid properly. To get faster relief from tablets, chew them well before swallowing.
Do antacids have any negative side effects?
Magnesium or sodium bicarbonate, two ingredients found in some antacids, have laxative properties. If you have any signs of appendicitis or bowel irritation, avoid using antacids. Antacid side effects could consist of:
Bowel motions that are light or white.
An antacid overdose or overuse might have serious negative effects.
How do heartburn medications that inhibit acids work?
Histamine H2 blockers also referred to as acid blockers, include products like Pepcid AC®. Acid blockers lower the amount of stomach acid produced. They treat sour stomach, acid indigestion, and heartburn. Always take this medication according to the recommendations on the label or as directed by your doctor.
Can I prevent heartburn?
A change in food and lifestyle can frequently help prevent and treat heartburn. These modifications include:
Not eating too much before bed. Before going to bed, eat a meal at least three to four hours in advance. This allows your stomach to empty and lowers the possibility of nighttime heartburn.
Keeping from overeating. During meals, reducing the size of your portions can help reduce your risk of experiencing heartburn. Instead of three larger meals, you might want to try four or five smaller ones.
Reducing speed. Heartburn can often be avoided by eating slowly. In order to slow down your eating, put your fork down in between mouthfuls.
Wearing attire that is loose-fitting. Sometimes belts and constrictive garments can give you heartburn. You might be able to avoid getting heartburn by switching up your outfit to avoid these products.
Select foods to avoid. There are particular foods that cause heartburn in a lot of people. By avoiding them, you can benefit. Consider recording these foods in a log so that you can be on the lookout for them in the future. You could also be advised to abstain from alcohol by your doctor.
The upkeep of a healthy weight. Weight loss frequently relieves heartburn.
Not a smoker. The lower esophageal sphincter might become weakened by nicotine (the valve that separates your stomach and esophagus). The strength of this valve and your general health both benefit from quitting smoking.
On your left side when you sleep. This might speed up the process of acid elimination from your stomach and esophagus and aid in digesting.
Your head and chest should be higher than your feet by raising the bed’s head. Under the bed posts at the head of the bed, place 6-inch blocks or books. Avoid using pillow stacks. They might make your heartburn worse by causing you to exert additional pressure on your stomach.
Organize your workout to prevent heartburn. After eating, wait at least two hours before working out. You risk causing heartburn if you exercise sooner. Additionally, you should hydrate yourself well before and after exercising. Dehydration is avoided and digestion is aided by water.
When to speak with a doctor
When should I get in touch with my doctor concerning heartburn?
Heartburn is a common condition, but it can occasionally result in more severe health issues. Inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory issues, a persistent cough, GERD, and Barrett’s esophagus, which may result in esophageal cancer, have all been related to severe, chronic heartburn.
You should speak with your doctor if
Heartburn won’t stop bothering you.
Your symptoms of heartburn worsen or occur more frequently.
It’s difficult or painful to swallow.
You throw up due to heartburn.
You’ve lost a lot of weight unexpectedly.
You’ve been using over-the-counter antacids for longer than two weeks (or longer than suggested on the label) and your heartburn symptoms haven’t subsided.
Even after taking prescription medications, you still experience heartburn symptoms.
You are gasping or have severe hoarseness.
Your discomfort affects your way of life or regular activities.
Will heartburn naturally go away?
Heartburn can occur occasionally for a lot of people. You might be able to prevent or control heartburn by paying attention to what you eat and avoiding certain triggers (diet and lifestyle choices). It may be an indication of a medical disease like GERD if you discover that you have persistently worsening heartburn that you encounter on a regular basis. Without therapy, your heartburn in these circumstances won’t go away. To create a treatment plan, speak with your healthcare professional.