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.