Heartburn is a burning sensation or pain in the chest area caused by acid reflux. The acid travels back from the stomach to the throat through the esophagus. The feeling usually lasts for a few minutes, although sometimes, it could extend for hours. It’s normal to experience this occasionally. However, if acid reflux happens more frequently, it’s gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of GERD, as this digestive disorder could cause esophagitis, which is the inflammation of the esophagus that may also lead to esophageal cancer. It’s best to seek immediate medical attention if you have heartburn, plus any of the following:
- Trouble or pain when swallowing
- Sweating and chest pain
- Short breath
- Blood on stools
As mentioned, occasional heartburn is usually not serious. However, since it can be painful, over-the-counter medicines like antacids can be taken to help relieve the pain. H2 blockers like nizatidine and PPIs like lansoprazole can also help provide comfort from heartburn as they are known to reduce acid in the stomach. Moreover, adding turmeric latte mix to your diet may help prevent or relieve heartburn. One of its ingredients, the lion’s mane, is believed to aid in digestive tract issues. In addition, since the mix potentially helps fight inflammation, it may help treat esophagitis. There are other ways to prevent both acid reflux and heartburn, including the steps listed below.
- Avoid foods that could cause acid reflux or heartburn. Observe which meals cause you to have acid reflux or heartburn, and avoid eating them. Common foods that cause this are spicy foods, soda, alcohol, and chocolates.
- Chew a piece of gum after a meal. Go for sugarless gum since sugary snacks like chocolate may also trigger acid reflux and heartburn. Chewing gum after a meal produces more saliva, which neutralizes the acid in your stomach, thus preventing it from going back up through the esophagus.
- Do not lie down right away after eating. The body digests food properly when it’s in an upright form. Lying down immediately after having your meal could cause your stomach’s content to go back up, causing heartburn. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying in bed to prevent the said symptom.
- Maintain a normal weight. Studies suggest a connection between obesity and heartburn. According to them, overweight people are more at risk of experiencing heartburn and even GERD. The extra fat in the stomach may cause pressure, leading to acid traveling back to the throat through the esophagus.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can cause or worsen heartburn and GERD as the nicotine found in cigarettes increases the acid in the stomach and weakens the sphincter. This muscle prevents acid from returning to the esophagus but may not perform its work if it malfunctions. Heartburn may stop if you quit smoking.
Occasional heartburn may not be life-threatening, but since it’s painful and uncomfortable, follow the tips provided on how to prevent it. If it gets more frequent than usual, seek medical help immediately.