Heartburn Symptoms: Everything You Need to Know
Digestive ailments like heartburn are something that many people suffer from around the globe. It is very prevalent and not easy to ignore. It is a burning sensation that occurs in the chest and throat when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of heartburn, their causes, and what you can do to relieve them.
Table of contents
- What is Heartburn?
- Symptoms of Heartburn
- Causes of Heartburn & its symptoms
- Risk Factors for Heartburn & its Symptoms
- How to Relieve Heartburn Symptoms
- When to See a Doctor if you have these Heartburn Symptoms
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn, also known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. The esophagus is the pathway that connects the mouth to the stomach and transports food to it. When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, it irritates the lining, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Heartburn symptoms may vary from individual to individual. However, the most common symptoms of heartburn include:
A burning sensation in the chest and throat is the most common symptom of heartburn. It usually occurs after eating or when lying down.
Some people may experience a sour or bitter taste in their mouth when they have heartburn. This is caused by stomach acid flowing back into the mouth.
Chest pain is another symptom of heartburn. The pain may feel like a pressure or squeezing sensation in the chest.
Some people may have difficulty swallowing when they have heartburn. This is because the acid irritates the lining of the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow.
Causes of Heartburn & its symptoms
Several factors can contribute to the development of heartburn. Several things can contribute to heartburn, some of which are:
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through an opening in the diaphragm and into the chest. Acid reflux and heartburn can both be caused by this.
Obesity is a risk factor for heartburn. Being overweight can put an extra strain on the stomach, allowing stomach acid to travel back up into the esophagus.
Pregnancy can increase the risk of heartburn. As the baby grows, it can put pressure on the stomach, causing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
Smoking can increase the risk of heartburn. Nicotine can relax the muscles in the esophagus, making it easier for stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
Certain foods can trigger heartburn. These include spicy foods, fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol.
Risk Factors for Heartburn & its Symptoms
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing heartburn. Some of these risk factors include:
Heartburn is more common in older adults.
Women are more likely to experience heartburn than men.
Heartburn may run in families.
Certain medications can increase the risk of heartburn. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, and some blood pressure medications
How to Relieve Heartburn Symptoms
Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve the symptoms of heartburn. Some of these remedies include:
Lifestyle Changes for Heartburn Symptoms
Making lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn symptoms. Some tips include:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day
- Avoiding trigger foods such as spicy, fatty, or acidic foods
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Raising the head of your bed while sleeping can be beneficial as it may help alleviate discomfort and improve sleep quality.
Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums and Rolaids, can help neutralize stomach acid and provide temporary relief from heartburn symptoms. H2 blockers, such as Pepcid and Zantac, can also be effective in reducing acid production.
Prescription Medications for Heartburn Symptoms
For severe or chronic heartburn, prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may be recommended. PPIs such as Nexium and Prilosec work by blocking the production of stomach acid.
When to See a Doctor if you have these Heartburn Symptoms
While occasional heartburn is normal, frequent or severe heartburn may be a sign of a more serious condition. You should see a doctor if:
- Heartburn occurs more than twice a week
- Symptoms persist even after making lifestyle changes and taking over-the-counter medications
- You experience difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing
Heartburn is a common digestive disorder that can be uncomfortable and disruptive to daily life. Fortunately, there are several ways to relieve the symptoms of heartburn, including lifestyle changes and medication. By understanding the causes and risk factors for heartburn, you can take steps to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
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