After enjoying a big meal, you sat down in front of your LCD TV watching a football game to relax. Then suddenly, you feel something happen inside your body. You suddenly felt a burning sensation that begins in the upper abdomen and makes its way behind the breastbone. Your chest feels like it’s on fire and the pain is radiating from your diaphragm to your throat.
The pain is accompanied by a bitter or sour taste and you feel as if food is reentering your mouth.
What you just experienced is a severe case of heartburn.
Although the name suggests that it may be related to the heart, you have to remember that heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. This is in fact a digestive problem where the stomach acid comes in to contact with the lining of the esophagus, which causes irritation.
A lot of people suffer from an occasional heartburn. Usually, we experience it right after a meal. However, you have to remember that there is such a thing as a chronic heartburn and this may have a negative effect on your life.
So, how can you tell if you are already suffering from a chronic heartburn?
Well, if you experience heartburn once a month, this is considered to be acute or mild. If you experience heartburn once a week, this is a moderate case of heartburn. But, when you experience heartburn in an everyday basis, this is what is considered as a chronic or severe case of heartburn.
For people who experiences mild cases of heartburn, this can be easily be managed with a change in diet. Over the counter antacids may also help as well as losing weight. People who suffer from moderate cases of heartburn can use these methods to find relief from heartburn. However, the mentioned remedies will only give partial or temporary relief to people suffering from severe or chronic heartburn.
The main cause of heartburn is when the stomach acid backs up or refluxes to the esophagus. This can happen for several reasons.
The first is when the lower esophageal sphincter or LES is weakened or relaxed and doesn’t do its job properly. The LES is what keeps the stomach acid in the stomach. Basically, this is the most common symptom for GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
Sugars, fatty foods, peppermint, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol can weaken or relax the LES, which can let stomach acid reflux to the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Eating large meals before bedtime can also cause heartburn. Obesity, frequent bending over, lifting, and wearing very tight clothes can produce pressure on the stomach, which in turn causes heartburn.
Smoking and certain medications can also trigger heartburn as well as stress as this is known to increase acid production and slows down the emptying of the stomach.
Mild heartburn may be considered to be more of a nuisance than a condition. But, if you are suffering from chronic heartburn, you have to remember that this is a serious condition, which can cause scarring of the esophagus. When this happens, it may be very hard or even painful for you to swallow food. This can also increase the likelihood of developing cancer of the esophagus.
These are the reasons why you should understand heartburn. By knowing about it, you will be able to treat it effectively. A change in diet is enough to treat mild heartburn but if you are experiencing severe heartburn on a daily basis, you may want to set up an appointment with your doctor to diagnose your condition.