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6 Surprising Truths About Heartburn

6 Surprising Truths About Heartburn

Almost everyone experiences heartburn at some point. But too many people have acid reflux symptoms frequently or have difficulty managing it with over-the-counter medications.

When you eat, food travels through the esophagus, a long tube that connects the mouth and stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve at the bottom of the esophagus, opens to allow food to pass into the stomach. The valve closes after the food has passed through to keep the contents inside. Then it begins to be digested by stomach acids. Although the stomach is lined and designed to handle all of the acids, the esophagus is not.

When the LES fails to close correctly, a portion of the acidic mixture from the stomach enters the esophagus. This condition is known as acid reflux and is frequently accompanied by the burning sensation known as heartburn.

Acid reflux symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in the throat
  • A hot or bitter taste in the back of the throat
  • Pain behind the breastbone
  • Pain in the chest when bending over
  • Trouble swallowing

You might be surprised to learn that chronic heartburn, can lead to long-term problems and that a doctor can help you treat and manage it. It shouldn’t be something to “live with”.

Six Truths About Heartburn

1. Heartburn is a symptom of a variety of conditions.

Heartburn is caused by a number of conditions, including:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Excess weight
  • Pregnancy

2. Food choices can cause heartburn.

Heartburn can result from eating or drinking certain foods, including:

  • Tomatoes or products containing tomatoes
  • Fruits or juices containing citrus
  • Fattening foods
  • Onions
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Alcohol

3. Lifestyle factors can worsen heartburn.

Certain lifestyle behaviors and activities can worsen symptoms, including:

  • Smoking
  • High levels of stress
  • Consuming large meals
  • Eating food too close to bedtime
  • Wearing clothing or a belt that is too tight

4. Heartburn can be prevented or managed through dietary and lifestyle changes.

Limiting your portion size and eating three to four hours before going to bed can help reduce your chances of experiencing nighttime symptoms. Other methods for managing or reducing heartburn symptoms include:

  • Consuming food slowly
  • Eating four or five small meals rather than three large ones
  • Avoid lying down or going to bed on an empty stomach
  • Dressing in baggy clothes
  • Recognizing and avoiding foods that cause symptoms
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Sleeping by raising the head of the bed
  • Delaying exercise or strenuous activity for at least two hours after eating

5. Chronic heartburn has been linked to a variety of health complications.

Although heartburn is common, frequent occurrences can lead to more serious health problems. Chronic heartburn has been linked to a variety of conditions, including:

  • Esophageal inflammation and narrowing
  • Recurrent cough
  • Respiratory issues
  • GERD
  • Barrett’s esophagus, a risk factor for esophageal cancer

You should see a doctor for chronic heartburn.

The doctor can complete tests to help identify the source of the symptoms and rule out any underlying issues, as well as prescribe proper treatments.

An endoscopy is a procedure that examines the upper digestive tract with a lighted, flexible instrument to diagnose and treat problems.

Seeing a doctor is important if:

  • Symptoms worsen or become more frequent
  • Heartburn persists after using over-the-counter medications
  • There is wheezing or hoarseness
  • It is difficult to swallow
  • Unexpected weight loss happens
  • Participation in daily activities becomes difficult

Don’t suffer from chronic heartburn any longer – schedule an appointment today!


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