How This Helps

Is heartburn getting you down? Whether you encounter it regularly or it is your first time, heartburn is an uncomfortable sensation. Heartburn may also cause anxiety if you're concerned that there could be something more serious with your heart.  It may surprise you to realize that 1 in 3 Americans suffer from heartburn regularly. And while this appears to be a straight forward question, there is more to here than you might think.

How does heartburn feel like?

The feeling of heartburn

 A burning sensation behind your breastbone in your chest center is how many describe heartburn. Some folks say it is a burning feeling, but for others, it seems like pain, unease, or distress that may start in your abdomen or stretch up to your throat. Irrespective of how you explain it, however, the one crucial point to understand. The burning feeling is a mere symptom pointing to something else that may be wrong in your body. Identifying the root cause of the reason behind your symptoms is the key to finding permanent relief.


Heartburn describes a set of symptoms caused by the reflux of stomach acid up into the esophagus (the tube which carries food from the mouth to the gut ). It's a burning sensation. You may feel it high in the abdomen or just below the base of the breastbone. Heartburn does not come from the heart but the stomach and esophagus.

Heartburn often begins following a meal when there is lots of acidity in the stomach.  It may also happen if you are bending over or lying down as gravity pulls acid from the stomach to the esophagus. It can be so irritating that it can wake you from sleep. The burning sensation can last minutes or more and can usually be relieved temporarily by swallowing antacids.

See: Heartburn and Acid Reflux Remedies

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn basics

Acid reflux is one of the most frequent causes of heartburn.  Under normal circumstances, the food you eat goes from the esophagus and stays in your stomach. You can thank a  properly functioning lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle at the junction of the stomach and esophagus, for that. The LES acts as a barrier which opens with you consume to allow food to pass into the stomach. It then promptly closes right after to keep the contents of the stomach in the stomach where they belong. When the LES opens when it is not supposed to, the highly acidic contents of the stomach can flow back into the esophagus. This acidic content can irritate its fragile lining and cause that burning feeling.

While occasional acid reflux generally is not that big a deal, repeated acid reflux can weaken the LES, where it can no longer act as an effective barrier, leading to a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Other frequent acid reflux symptoms include regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, and chest discomfort.

But heartburn can be caused by some other conditions, too. Cardiovascular disease, gallstones, and esophageal motility disorders (for example, nutcracker esophagus and achalasia of the esophagus) can cause the symptom of heartburn. It's essential to ascertain the cause of your symptoms, rather than simply assuming that acid reflux is the cause.

Heartburn often may be accompanied by other symptoms. Acid-tasting stuff containing small particles of chewed, partially digested food can regurgitate up to and irritate your throat, making a sour or salty taste, or causing one to create as much saliva that it occasionally drips from your mouth. Individuals who've had heartburn for quite a long time sometimes have difficulty swallowing food because stomach acid has irritated and narrowed the gut, so that food sticks moving down or swallowing becomes debilitating. Reflux of stomach acid up into the vocal cords in the throat can lead to hoarseness, a chronic cough, or wheezing.

Do not take heartburn lightly. If you have had heartburn for quite a very long time, the acid may irritate the bottom portion of your esophagus and increase the risk of cancer forming there. Heartburn may also be due to an ulcer in the stomach or small intestine, which can result in significant bleeding or abdominal disease. If you have had heartburn for several years and done little or nothing about it, then your health expert should investigate and get to the root cause at the earliest.

Finally, what may seem like heartburn can be another medical condition called angina. The buildup of fatty deposits in arteries of the heart can lead to angina. That may lead to a heart attack and even sudden death. It is wise to get heartburn checked out by a doctor to know the root cause and to rule out any other serious condition.

See: Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux

What to do if you have heartburn

You should consider all your symptoms seriously, even if they don't appear to be a big thing. They're signals in the body that something is wrong. Seemingly minor symptoms may result in serious complications. Next, if you find yourself routinely popping an antacid or have been taking acid-reducing medication for more than fourteen days, it is time to find a health expert to get to the bottom of your symptoms. A health expert will provide a proper evaluation to distinguish between the possible causes of your symptoms so that you can decide the best route forward to take care of your symptoms.

Identify the root cause conditions of heartburn issues (for example, anxiety, sleep, or depression) and to develop and organize individual treatment protocols with lifestyle, diet, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and botanicals, as well as reevaluating any lifestyle treatments. Rather than long-term pharmaceutical usage, lifestyle modifications can help people with heartburn.


See: GERD diet plan to prevent heartburn

Home remedies for heartburn

Simple home remedies for heartburn:

Some people today find herbs and other natural remedies to be useful in treating heartburn symptoms. Here are some examples:

1. Don't lie down soon after eating: If you lie flat right after eating your meal, your stomach contents can more easily be pushed back up from the pressure on your esophageal sphincter. Stay vertical and make gravity work in your favor and help keep the food down in your stomach where it belongs. It's ideal to consume four hours until you know you're going to be lying down to allow time for your food to digest completely.


2. Eat Fruit: Some fruits like bananas have natural antacid properties that counteract acid reflux. Eat a fully ripened banana every day to decrease the discomfort of acid coming back up. Another terrific fruit to try is an apple. An apple a day will help to keep the doctor away in this case. Eat it a couple of hours before bedtime. Other fruits that could reduce cases of heartburn are honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Refrain from eating fruits with high acidic content such as pineapple and grapefruit.


3. Baking Soda: The humble baking soda does more than baking. Just a teaspoon of baking soda neutralizes stomach acid. It has a base material to fight the acid so that even if it comes up, you won't feel that burning feeling. Just don't use it daily as it does have side effects due to high salt content.


4. Ginger: The root of the ginger plant is just another renowned herbal digestive aid. It's been used for centuries as a home remedy for heartburn. Ginger tea or ginger water is terrific for many gastrointestinal disorders, from the frequent stomach ache to acid reflux. Drink the tea or water prior to a meal to maximize the benefit of heartburn. 


5. Chew Gum: Individuals experiencing heartburn can find some relief by chewing gum.  According to a Journal of Dental Research study, chewing gum for 30 minutes after eating stimulates the salivary glands, which increases saliva. The saliva helps wash away any acid. 


6. Mustard: Mustard is packed with minerals and contains vinegar, a weak acid. Additionally, it contains alkaline, which neutralizes the acid that comes up because of heartburn. Take a teaspoon of mustard if you are already experiencing discomfort.


7. Chamomile Tea: Drink a cup of chamomile tea an hour before bedtime. This will help balance the acidity levels in your stomach. Chamomile also reduces anxiety levels, which can lead to heartburn. You can add lemon or honey based on your taste buds. A cup of chamomile tea can have a calming effect on the digestive tract. Do not use chamomile if you have a ragweed allergy.


8. Licorice. Licorice has proved effective in a number of studies. Licorice is said to raise the mucous coating of the esophageal lining, helping to withstand the bothersome effects of stomach acid. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or DGL, is available in liquid or pill form.


9. Other organic remedies. Catnip, fennel, marshmallow root, and papaya tea have been said to aid in digestion and prevent heartburn. Some people today eat fresh papaya as a digestive aid. Other people swear by raw potato juice three times daily. Naturopathic followers also tout a homeopathic remedy of vomit nut for a heartburn fix.

See: Chewing gum advantages, disadvantages, & side effects

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