Heartburn: What are the Causes? - Symptoms Check

Heartburn: What are the Causes?


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What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a type of burning sensation that happens in your chest. You will quickly discover that the pain can get worse if you lie down or bend over. Even though it is called heartburn, it has nothing to do with your heart. Rather, it is an irritation that occurs within the esophagus. In case you were unaware, your esophagus is located behind the breastbone. Despite the fact that it has nothing to do with your heart, some of the symptoms are similar to ones that people face when they have heart disease.

Everyone has to deal with heartburn now and then. It is a common feeling, so there is no need to worry. You can even manage the discomfort by taking over-the-counter drugs. The prescription medications were designed to lessen heartburn symptoms. It is one of the quickest ways to eliminate the burning sensation in your chest. If heartburn is regularly interfering with your daily routine, you should consult with a doctor. In some cases, this can be a sign that something more serious is going on. Your doctor will perform tests to figure out if you have heartburn or a more serious disease.

What Causes Heartburn to Occur?

Heartburn is the result of a backup of stomach acid. When this happens, the stomach acid is stuck in your esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter is supposed to relax when you swallow. The esophageal sphincter is a band of muscle that circles the bottom region of your esophagus. It is located right below your rib cage on the left hand side. When it relaxes, it allows food and drinks to enter your stomach before it closes again.

Unfortunately, the esophageal sphincter does not always relax in the way that it is supposed to. Sometimes it will weaken or relax in an abnormal way. When this happens, stomach acid flows back up to your esophagus. This is what causes heartburn to occur. Not only that, but it is the reason that heartburn is worse when you are bending over or lying down. It allows the acid to flow more freely, which causes a worst acid backup in your esophagus. Therefore, it is best to remain in an upright position when are experiencing heartburn. You should also avoid smoking because it contributes to heartburn. In fact, smoking relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which stimulates stomach acid.

Are There Any Additional Problems that Contribute to Heartburn?

There are some other things that have been known to play a role in heartburn. For instance, too much food in the stomach can cause heartburn to occur. This is one of the many reasons why it is important not to overeat. Not only that, but too much pressure on the stomach can also cause heartburn. This problem is frequently seen among patients that are obese or pregnant. There are even certain foods that will relax the esophageal sphincter.

These foods are citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppermint and chocolate. It also includes alcoholic beverages and drinks with caffeine in them. Along with that, meals that are high in fat and oil have been known to cause heartburn. If you want to avoid heartburn, it is important to reduce your stress levels. This is due to the fact that stress can increase acid production. The extra acid can end up in your esophagus, which causes you to suffer from the burning sensation for a while. One of the final causes of heartburn is medication. There are certain medications that list heartburn as a side-effect. It is important to keep this in mind when taking your medication.

Featured Image: Thinkstock/KittisakJirasittichai


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