The Causes of Heartburn and Why You Should Take It Seriously

Have you ever experienced feeling a burning sensation that starts in your upper abdomen and builds up just behind your breastbone and that the pain and burning sensation is often accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth? If you have, then you are suffering from a condition called heartburn.

Although most people do experience heartburn once in a while, you have to remember that this condition is something that you shouldn’t take lightly, especially if you have a chronic case of this condition.

Chronic heartburn is when you experience this condition every single day or almost every day. If this is the case, then you may want to go to your doctor and have it checked. Leaving chronic heartburn untreated can lead to more severe complications that will significantly have a negative effect on your life.

So, what causes heartburn and why should you take it seriously?

For starters, heartburn happens when the stomach acid refluxes or backs up in to the esophagus. This can happen because of several reasons.

The first reason is that the lower esophageal sphincter or LES is weakened or relaxed and doesn’t do its job properly. Basically, the LES is the valve that keeps the stomach acid in the stomach. If it doesn’t work properly, it will allow the stomach acid to come in contact with the esophagus, which in turn causes heartburn. This is a common symptom of GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Another cause is by eating certain foods, such as fried and fatty foods, chocolates, coffee, peppermint, sugars, and alcohol. These foods weaken or relax the LES.

Eating large meals shortly before bedtime can also cause heartburn. When you eat large meals, the production of stomach acid increases and when you lie down immediately after eating a large meal to go to bed, your body is in the perfect position for the stomach acid to reflux or come in contact with the esophagus.

Hiatal hernia is another cause of heartburn. This condition is a result of a weakening of the tissues that supports the digestive tract. This condition occurs when a part of the upper stomach slips up through the hiatus and in to the chest. Depending on the size and position of the hernia, this can cause heartburn and even chest pain.

Smoking can also cause heartburn. This is because the nicotine inside cigars and cigarettes weaken the LES. And, as you may already know, if the LES is weakened, it may not function properly and will let the stomach acid flow in to the esophagus, which will ultimately cause heartburn.

Stress is another known cause of heartburn. It has been found that stress can increase the acid production in the stomach and slows down the emptying of the stomach, causing heartburn.

These are the causes of heartburn. Mild cases of heartburn are more of a nuisance rather than a condition. But, if you have a severe case of heartburn, you may want to get it checked and treated by a doctor immediately. This is because chronic cases of heartburn can cause severe complications. It can cause scarring of the esophagus, which can make it difficult for you to swallow food and even liquids. Leaving it untreated can also lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus. This condition is where cells similar to the lining of the stomach start to develop in the lower esophagus. This condition can increase your risk of developing cancer of the esophagus, which is very hard to detect and very hard to treat.

These are the causes of heartburn. As you can see, heartburn should be taken seriously especially if have a chronic case or when you experience it almost every day. Get heartburn treated and you can be sure that you will be able to continue living a normal life.

Chronic Heartburn: Causes and Effective Treatments

Today, around 10 to 15 percent of the adult population has chronic heartburn. While mild heartburn can be treated easily through lifestyle modification and over the counter antacids, chronic heartburn is far more complicated to treat.

This is because chronic heartburn may indicate that you may be suffering from other medical conditions that are far more serious, such as Barrett’s esophagus, Hiatal hernia, esophagitis, or GERD. In rare and extreme cases, chronic heartburn may also be caused by esophageal cancer or cancer of the esophagus.

First of all, heartburn occurs when partially digested food mixed with stomach acid or gastric juice escapes the stomach and comes in to contact with the esophagus. This causes pain and a burning sensation behind the breastbone in the chest, which is what we all know as heartburn.

A lot of people experiences heartburn at some point in time but if you experience this problem frequently, such as 3 times a week, this means that you have chronic heartburn. It is a clear indication that you are suffering from a more serious medical condition, such as GERD.

There are factors that can contribute to chronic heartburn. For example, it can be because of gender. Women tend to be more prone to chronic heartburn than men. Some speculate that a woman’s lower esophageal sphincter malfunctions more frequently than men, which means that gastric juices or stomach acid flows back in to the esophagus.

Women who are pregnant are at an even higher risk of developing chronic heartburn. This is mainly because the belly swells due to the presence of the baby. It puts pressure on the stomach, which pushes stomach contents, such as acid, up.

Obesity is also another contributing factor to chronic heartburn. The reason behind this is because of the fat belly, which also puts pressure on the stomach. The pressure pushes the stomach acid up to the esophagus, which causes heartburn. If the obese person does not lose weight, the heartburn problem may become more severe.

Genetic and race factors also play a role. Research has found that Hispanics and Caucasians suffer from heartburn more frequently than any other races, such as Asians and African Americans. Today, genetic research is still being conducted to discover why this is so.

It is important to keep in mind that if you have chronic heartburn, you have to get it treated. Even if it has not progressed to the stage of GERD, you have to get this condition treated before it’s too late.

Popping an over the counter antacid may help treat mild cases of heartburn but for chronic heartburn, this will most likely be useless.

You need intervention from a medical professional to get chronic heartburn treated. They may recommend drugs containing histamine 2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, ranitidine, and even metoclopramide. In some cases, more than one of these drugs are prescribed in order to cure or treat a case of chronic heartburn.

In rare cases, chronic heartburn may be accompanied by a condition called Hiatal hernia. This will require surgery in order to treat heartburn.

You also need to keep in mind that lifestyle changes are important in order to treat heartburn permanently. This will involve losing weight, avoiding foods that cause heartburn, avoiding cigarette smoking, drinking of alcohol, and it will also involve eating smaller meals instead of 3 large meals a day.

These are the causes and treatments available for chronic heartburn. Always remember that chronic heartburn should be taken seriously. If you experience severe pain because of heartburn for 3 times a week for 2 straight weeks, it’s time that you see a doctor. This can indicate a more serious medical condition.