Heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning feeling that rises from the front of the lower chest up towards the throat. It is often accompanied by a bitter or sour taste of food in the throat or mouth. Don’t worry, it does not affect your heart, but it is important to be certain your discomfort is not coming from your heart. Heartburn usually happens after eating a big meal or when lying down and it can last from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
What Causes Heartburn?
When you eat, food passes from your mouth to the stomach by way of a tube called the esophagus. Between the stomach and the esophagus there is an muscle that closes the opening from the esophagus to the stomach as soon as the food has passed through. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If this opening doesn’t close, acid in the stomach can move backward up into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation. This is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or reflux, for short.
Certain foods and drinks can trigger heartburn in some people, including:
• Spicy foods
• Citrus products
• Tomato products, such as ketchup
• Fatty or fried foods
• Alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee or other caffeinated beverages
• Large or fatty meals
Symptoms of heartburn include:
• A burning pain in the chest that usually occurs after eating and may occur at night
• Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
• Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
Treatment of Heartburn: How to Prevent Heartburn
• Raise the head of your bed by placing blocks under the legs at the head of the bed blocks should be about 10 to 15 cm or 4 to 6 inches high)
• Try not eating within an hour or two of going to bed
• If you like to nap after a meal, try to nap sitting in a chair
• If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about a weight loss program
• Try not to overeat
• Eat less fats
• Try to avoid foods that give you heartburn
• Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol
• Avoid clothes that are extremely tight around your abdomen
• Avoid stress
• If you are a smoker, talk to you doctor about quitting
Will Antacids Help With Heartburn?
Most people get fast relief from antacids. Take a dose of antacid about an hour after meals and at bedtime. You may want to discuss the timing and side-effects of antacids with your pharmacist or doctor.