Just one slice of hot pepperoni pizza eaten will push the body to action. There is acid in the stomach, ready to break down the resulting food. For many people, the valve responsible for the location of acid in the stomach does not work very well and allows the acid to rise higher, causing a burning sensation. Heartburn is an extremely common symptom. More than 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn at least once a month. Find out how heartburn begins and how to stop it.
2. Heartburn: what is the inside view?
To understand what causes heartburn, let's follow the path of a piece of pizza. After you swallow a piece, it passes through the esophagus into the stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter - the muscle ring - relaxes to allow food to enter the stomach. Then it closes to prevent acid from entering the esophagus.
Symptoms of the disease
Heartburn can not be called an independent disease, it is a sign of the pathology of some parts of the digestive system.
To distinguish ordinary bitterness in the mouth after a spicy meal from heartburn, you should know some symptoms of the disease, such as:
- if you feel a burning sensation in the chest area, as if you ate a very peppered dish,
- an eructation appears accompanied by an unpleasant sensation, acid, bitterness in the mouth,
- leaning forward, as well as horizontal position of the body, cause the same burning sensation,
- a bitter nasty taste in the mouth follows for an hour,
- coughing, tickling, sore throat cause inconvenience during meals,
- pain in the jaw, upper neck, throat also helps to recognize heartburn.
Only on the basis of certain factors that are permanent in nature, can one claim about pathology.
Such periodic manifestations indicate a developing disease or some other subjective causes that are not related to pathology. These may include smoking, alcohol, and unhealthy diet.
If there is bitterness in the oral cavity after eating, some preventive measures should be taken to further avoid it, for example:
- you need to eat food in small portions, 5-6 times a day, without waiting for the urge to eat,
- drink at least two liters of clean water daily, especially if you feel discomfort in the sternum,
- it is undesirable immediately after leaving the dining table to make active motor movements, play sports,
- legumes and dairy products should be excluded from the daily diet to prevent bloating,
- thoroughly chewing food will help to avoid discomfort.
Of course, preventive measures are important, but you still have to visit a gastroenterologist’s office. The disease is easier to prevent in the primary stage than to treat it in the chronic.
The resulting heartburn during pregnancy is caused by a change in the hormonal background of the body.
The increased content of the steroid hormone progesterone, which is responsible for the normal bearing of the fetus, has a relaxing effect on the muscle valve between the esophagus and the stomach, this factor also affects muscle contractions of the digestive organs.
The result is a slow movement of food, discomfort in the mouth, chest. Therefore, heartburn as a frequent or regular guest is a companion of a pregnant woman.
To determine if bitterness in the mouth is a sign of a disease or a normal subjective factor, you must make an appointment with a doctor. Only he can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
So, a gastroenterologist prescribes the following medicines:
- Ganaton, Cerucal, Maalox help the esophagus contract,
- Domstal, Motilium, Dramina reduce pressure on the stomach,
- Lansoprazole, Cefodox, Motilak normalize the acidic environment.
Important! Changes in lifestyle, nutrition, may be taught to understand the symptoms of anomalies. This is especially true for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
If you don’t know how to recognize attacks of heartburn, try switching to proper nutrition, leaving unhealthy habits, and drinking more clean water.
To feel the difference between heartburn and simple chest discomfort, take preventative measures. A persistent burning sensation indicates the need to visit a doctor's office.
What triggers the appearance?
Heartburn can occur with certain violations of the lifestyle and composition of the diet or with a number of conditions and diseases. For the appearance of an acidic taste in the mouth and pain in the area behind the sternum, a number of conditions must be created.
The appearance of heartburn is possible in two conditions:
- Pathological (diseases of organs and systems of the body).
The reasons that can contribute to the development of heartburn and at the same time not cause pathological deviations include errors in nutrition and lifestyle.
Reception of spicy, salty, smoked and fatty foods contributes to the appearance of heartburn. A sedentary lifestyle, limitation of motor activity also increases the likelihood of discomfort from the digestive system. A number of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, tomatoes and some others with an increase in consumption can also trigger a symptom. Alcohol, smoking, in addition to negative effects on the body, cause relaxation of the cardiac sphincter, which may be accompanied by a burning sensation behind the sternum.
Heartburn - annoying child bearing companion
In women, pregnancy can provoke the appearance of a symptom. During pregnancy, an enlarging uterus begins to push the abdominal organs toward the diaphragm. As a result of the increasing pressure, conditions are created for a loose cover of the upper gastric opening, bordering the esophagus. In addition, the increased hormone content, which prevents accidental miscarriage, affects the smooth muscles not only of the uterus, but of the whole organism, including the sphincter located between the digestive organs.
The following diseases may be involved in the occurrence of heartburn in the pathology of organs and systems of the body:
- Defects in the work and diseases of the digestive system: gastritis, peptic ulcer, chronic cholecystitis, pancreatitis in the acute stage and prolonged course, gastroesophageal reflex, gallstone disease.
- Disruption of the nervous system: mental illness, prolonged stress.
- Hernia of the esophagus.
- Pathology of connective tissue: collagenosis.
- A side effect of certain drugs.
How can you suspect heartburn?
Accurately recognizing heartburn without an appropriate examination by a specialist is extremely difficult. But by some signs to reveal. Presumably, it is still possible to understand that the contents of the stomach appeared in the esophagus, noting a number of signs. According to unpleasant sensations, one can only predict a possible change in the alkaline balance in the esophagus.
What can a person experience with heartburn:
- Burning sensation: in the sternum, above the abdomen, throat.
- Sour taste in the oral cavity.
- Sour burp.
Heartburn and belching often go hand in hand
The mechanism of heartburn is quite simple. With increased pressure on the upper gastric sphincter by food or the initial weakness of smooth muscles can lead to the release of partially processed food into the esophagus. The process of digesting food involves hydrochloric acid, which is produced by the parietal cells of the stomach tissue. The stomach is resistant to acids. With the return of food to the esophagus, a microburn-like phenomenon occurs. Esophagus tissue is absolutely not intended for contents in which acid is present. That is why pain occurs behind the sternum, and after that - a sour aftertaste and belching in the mouth.
The symptom of increased acidity is aggravated by bending forward, lying down, with active physical exertion (lifting heavy objects, tugging).
What to do when a symptom appears?
After it has become tentatively clear how to determine heartburn, you can proceed to the methods of treatment. Of course, first of all, you need to think about what can cause discomfort. To this end, it is better to consult a doctor.
Upon examination, the doctor will identify the alleged causes, prescribe an additional examination and prescribe treatment based on all the data. With heartburn, which occurs as a temporary phenomenon, antacids are prescribed. These drugs (Rennie, Maalox and others), which neutralize the acid trapped in the lumen of the esophagus. Alginates (Gaviscon) in contact with hydrochloric acid of the stomach form a gel that creates a kind of film on the walls of the stomach, thereby protecting the organ from the aggressive effects of food particles. Proton pump inhibitors (Omeprozole), which can block the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, are prescribed by a doctor only as an extreme option for treating a symptom of high acidity.
At home, you can remove unpleasant sensations using an aqueous solution with baking soda. However, before experimenting, it is better to consult a doctor.
Prevention of the occurrence of heartburn is considered proper nutrition (fractionally, in small portions) of wholesome food, compliance with the regime of work and rest, a medical examination once a year by a therapist, and in the presence of a somatic disease, by an appropriate specialist.
3. Heartburn: who is to blame?
In some people, the sphincter between the stomach and esophagus does not work properly. This allows acid to enter the esophagus (this process is called acid reflux), where it can cause pain and irritation. Other symptoms of severe acid reflux include the sour taste of saliva in the back of the throat, difficulty swallowing, or the feeling that the food is stuck in the chest or throat. Chronic cough or asthma attacks can also be caused by acid reflux.
4. Heartburn: who is at risk?
Anyone can experience heartburn, but some lifestyle factors affect how well the sphincter works, as well as the amount of acid in the stomach. People who are overweight, eating large portions of food, wearing tight clothing, or having a smoking habit are generally more vulnerable.
5. Heartburn = GERD?
Heartburn usually does not pose a serious threat to your health. However, complications with severe and frequent acid reflux may occur. If you have severe heartburn or suffer from it a couple of times a week, this may indicate a disease called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). In such cases, you should consult a doctor. Without treatment, GERD can cause inflammation, ulcers and scars. In some cases, GERD leads to changes in the cells of the esophagus mucosa - Barrett's esophagus - these changes increase the risk of esophageal cancer.
6. Is nightburn dangerous?
Wake up with a sore throat, cough or a bitter taste in your mouth? It can be nocturnal acid reflux, which is dangerous. In addition to sleep disorders, nocturnal reflux increases the risk of damage to the esophagus. When we lie down, stomach acid lingers in the esophagus longer. During sleep, we swallow less acid-neutralizing saliva than during wakefulness.
7. How to prevent heartburn at home?
You can prevent the occurrence of heartburn with changes in your daily lifestyle. Start eating smaller meals. Have dinner at least three to four hours before bedtime and avoid late night snacks. (If you have food in your stomach when you go to bed, this can cause acid reflux symptoms - heartburn).
8. Do you follow what you eat?
Some foods are known to promote heartburn, because they contain additional acids, and when they enter the stomach, they relax the lower food sphincter. Avoid foods that may cause you problems. The condition will improve if you avoid tomatoes, onions, garlic, chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods and citrus fruits - oranges and grapefruits. If you find that spicy food also makes you uncomfortable, try eating less spicy dishes, rather than giving up your favorite foods overnight.
10. Can the training regimen affect the appearance of heartburn?
Exercise can increase intra-abdominal pressure, thereby increasing the risk of acid reflux. Some exercises increase the risk more than others, completely reversing the natural direction of digestion. A headstand and “inverted” yoga poses such as a dog pose are a good example. Exercise on the abdominal muscles is also problematic because it promotes the movement of acid from the stomach to the esophagus.
11. How to protect yourself from night heartburn?
If you suffer from nighttime heartburn, try putting something under the legs of your bed to raise the headboard by 15 centimeters. Or fall asleep on a pillow, placing it in a wedge-shaped position. This method is based on the force of gravity that holds stomach acid where it should be. (Avoid using multiple pillows at the same time. With this method, you bend your body in such a way that it will only aggravate heartburn). You will suffer less from reflux if you lie on your left side and not on your right.
12. Is there heartburn during pregnancy?
More than half of pregnant women report symptoms of severe heartburn, especially during the second and third trimesters. Changes in hormone levels and increased abdominal pressure during pregnancy increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn. Mild heartburn can be prevented by changing daily habits: eating small portions of food several times a day instead of three large meals, refusing fried and spicy foods, physical activity immediately after eating. If diet and lifestyle changes do not alleviate the symptoms, pregnant women should consult their doctor before taking any medications.
13. How do antacids work?
In case of sudden heartburn, take an immediate drug, for example, liquid antacid. As the name implies, antacids neutralize stomach acid. This provides temporary relief of heartburn, but these substances quickly leave the stomach. It is very important to follow the instructions, because excessive use of antacids can cause serious consequences. If heartburn bothers for a long time, antacids may not help.
16. What medicine for heartburn to choose?
The choice of medicine for heartburn depends on many things: the frequency of heartburn, its intensity, the need to alleviate or only prevent it. Antacids are used to quickly alleviate mild heartburn. H2 blockers can prevent incipient heartburn, but only if you know when to take them. Proton pump inhibitors will help get rid of really strong heartburn. The doctor will be able to choose the drugs that are right for you.