Heartburn (often called acid indigestion) typically occurs 30-60 minutes after meals.
The pain is worse when lying down, bendingforward, and straining to pass stools. The pain is relieved by standing upright, swallowing saliva or water, or by taking antacids.
What is heartburn?
Despite its name, heartburn doesn't affect the heart. Heartburn is a burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth. It usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down. The feeling can last for a few minutes or a few hours. Continual bouts of heartburn can be a symptom of a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Frequent or severe heartburn may limit daily activities and lead to further complications such as ulcers in the esophagus. With proper understanding of heartburn and treatment, relief can be obtained from this condition. If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes damaged. You may then have difficulty swallowing. In more serious cases, you may lose weight and become dehydrated. Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, you may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in your bowel movements. About 30% of adults experience occasional heartburn, while 10% experience heartburn every day. About 25% of pregnant women have heartburn or related symptoms. That's why heartburn is often mistaken for chest pain due to a heart attack. However, do not second guess yourself. If you are having chest pain for any reason, seek medical attention immediately, if only to rule out a heart attack.
What causes heartburn?
When you eat, food passes from your mouth down a tube (about 10 inches long in most people) called the esophagus. To enter the stomach, the food must pass through an opening between the esophagus and stomach. This opening acts like a gate to allow food to pass into the stomach.
Usually, this opening closes as soon as food passes through. But if it doesn't close all the way, acid from your stomach can get through the opening and into your esophagus. This is called reflux. Stomach acid can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Hiatal hernia can also cause heartburn. Hiatal hernia is a condition in which part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm (the muscle wall between the stomach and chest) and into the chest. Sometimes this causes heartburn.
Things that can make heartburn worse
Coffee (both regular and decaffeinated) and other drinks that contain caffeine
Chocolate, mints or peppermints
Fatty foods or spicy foods (such as pizza, chili and curry)
Lying down too soon after eating
Being overweight or obese
Aspirin or ibuprofen (one brand name: Motrin)
Certain medicines (such as sedatives and some medicines for high blood pressure)
Bad heartburn is the result of the regurgitation of stomach acid. Sometimes called reflux or dyspepsia. Having an attack of this is indeed a most uncomfortable feeling and may last for for some time although most times it tends to be quite fleeting and will gradually disperse until all is normal again.
What can I do to feel better?
To remove the problem you will need to cut back or completely do away with specific foods and drinks. Even nicotine is known to play a role.Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure.You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can place bricks, blocks or anything that's sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You can also use an extra pillow, or a wedge-shaped pillow, to elevate your head. Fatty foods and spicy foods are often the major culprits. Keep a diary of the food you eat as well as the times when bad heartburn strikes. This should allow you to find out exactly what triggers the episodes.
It is believed that by switching to a diet high in alkaline foods rather than acidic foods the chance of bad heartburn becoming a regular occurrence can be seriously diminished. There are a number of home remedies you could try out which are believed to be effective in reducing bad heartburn. For example aloe vera juice, bananas, and apple cider vinegar can be helpful.
Antacids to neutralise the stomach acid, medicines that float on top of the stomach acid or drugs that reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach may be recommended. Sometimes surgery is needed to repair the stomach valve if lifestyle changes and medication aren't controlling the symptoms.
Limit the intake of acid-stimulating foods and beverages.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Maintain a Healthy weight.
Don't drink alcohol.
Don't wear belts or clothes that are tight fitting around the waist.
Don't lie down for about two hours after you eat.
Elevate your head a few inches while you sleep.
Maintain a heartburn record.
If your symptoms persist even after making changes to your diet then it is important to seek out professional medical advice as you may have a problem such as stomach ulcers or an irritable bowel.
Acidic foods which include tomatoes and products that contain tomatoes (such as tomato sauce and salsa) and citrus fruits (such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons) -- can trigger heartburn, especially if you eat them by themselves, on an empty stomach. Vinegar is also highly acidic -- not that you're going to eat vinegar by itself, but it's a common ingredient in salad dressings and other dishes.
You may not have to give up your favorite foods. Preparing them differently could help tame your heartburn. You might be able to bake, broil, grill, or roast some foods instead of frying them. And you could trim extra fat off meat and poultry, and cut the skin off chicken. Little tweaks might trim enough fat to make a difference for heartburn – and your overall health.
Chewing gum after a meal to stimulate saliva production, since saliva neutralizes acid and spurs the stomach to move its contents into the small intestine faster -- basically, moving it down the line before heartburn sets in.
The first thing to think about, in terms of curbing heartburn, isn't this or that specific food. It's the amount of food you eat at a time. When it comes to heartburn risk, the sheer volume of what you eat matters. And this is one case where bigger isn't better. No matter what the food is, how good it looks, or how much you like it, eating too much food at once makes heartburn more likely. So, if a change in diet can help you avoid heartburn, which foods should you choose to lose to help head off the pain?
Top 10 Acid Reflux Foods to Avoid
Most heartburn sufferers are all too familiar with the uncomfortable indigestion after eating or drinking something citrusy. Although the acidreflux-inducing citrus fruits vary from person to person, the most common offenders are oranges, grapefruits and lemons. As with tomatoes, it is the high acid content of these fruits that causes the pain. The aggravation is the same as well; citrus fruits cause the lower esophageal sphincter to overly relax, allowing acid to flow back up in to the esophagus, leading to heartburn.
Crunchy foods can worsen acid reflux! Nuts, crackers, toast, popcorn, cookies, breakfast cereals will make your reflux situation worse by scratching your lower esophageal sphincter.
Tomatoes in our salads and in a myriad of sauces would seem a healthy choice and the chemical that makes them red, lycopene, may evenlower our risk for certain cancers. But for heartburn and acid reflux sufferers, tomatoes can be a chest pain waiting to happen. Tomatoes or tomato-based products can lead to or contribute to heartburn because in some individuals they can cause an abnormal relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows the acid contents of the stomach to splash back up into the esophagus. This causes acid reflux. There is no reasonable substitute for tomatoes and many of us consider them as staples. Our only suggestion is to avoid eating them near bedtime, preferably even switching eating your pastas and creole dishes for lunch instead of dinner.
Beer, wine and non-alcoholic wine drinks are generally some triggers of heartburn. In reality, any kind of alcoholic drink may cause heartburn. Carbonated beverages cause gastric distension and if your stomach is distended, this increases pressure on the esophageal sphincter, promoting reflux. Heartburn sufferers should stay clear of pop and other carbonated beverages. Some other liquids that may result in heartburn are coffee, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, carbonated or fizzy beverages (soda pops).
While many people think peppermint is soothing for the tummy, it is actually an acid reflux trigger food. Our best advice is to skip the after dinner mints, especially after a rich meal. They may be good for your breath while on a date, but they are not so good if you are prone to acid reflux. Peppermint relaxes the sphincter muscle between the stomach and esophagus. This allows stomach acids to flow back into the esophagus.
Your indispensable morning coffee could be the reason for your discomfort. Caffeine in coffee, tea or iced tea, soda or any other beveragewill put you in trouble, especially if you drink large portions. If you are a heavy coffee or soda drinker, try to drink not more then one cup of coffee a day. The type of coffee bean roasting method used does not reduce the tendency of coffee to produce gastroesophageal reflux. Sensitive individuals, even when consuming coffee produced through different roasting processes experienced heartburn, regurgitation and dyspepsia. If the problem persists, cut out the coffee.
Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine (a compound that occurs naturally in many plants such as cocoa, teaand coffee plants), which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, allowing stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. If you are a chocolate addict, make dark, organic types your preference and do not exceed two or three minuscule squares two or three times in any week.
Pepper, chili, and any other food that is loaded with pepper or other spices can trigger heartburn. Forget about those chicken wings with suicide sauce. Some people with heartburn do not do well with either garlic or onion. The identical meal, with theaddition of a slice of onion, was ingested on a counterbalanced day. Variables measured were number of reflux episodes, percentage of the time pH was less than four, heartburn episodes, and belches. Ingestion of onions did not increase any of the reflux variables measured in normals. However, onions significantly increased all measures in heartburn subjects, compared with the no-onion condition, and compared with normals under the onion condition. Onions can be a potent and long-lasting refluxogenic agent in heartburn patients.
High-fat foods tend to stay in the stomach longer, and the longer they're there, the more likely discomfort can be, if you're eating big servings of those high-fat foods -- like a lot of fried chicken, chips, or wings -- then you've got a double whammy of two potential heartburn triggers -- too much food and fatty fare.
You may not have to give up your favorite foods. Preparing them differently could help tame your heartburn.You might be able to bake, broil, grill, or roast some foods instead of frying them. And you could trim extra fat off meat and poultry, and cutthe skin off chicken. Little tweaks might trim enough fat to make a difference for heartburn – and your overall health.
To make heartburn less likely, choose drinks that aren't fizzy and don't contain caffeine. Options include herbal teas, milk, and plain water. Having water with meals would also dilute stomach acid, making heartburn less likely. You may also want to limit tomato or citrus juices because of their acidity. And if you must have your coffee or other drinks that could promote heartburn, try to cut back -- maybe a smaller mug would help.
Just because you have heartburn, you aren't necessarily headed for a lifetime of bland foods. Try turning down the heat. You don't have to drown your wings in hot sauce, for instance. And maybe you could dial your chili down to two alarms instead of four. Easing up a bit on the spiciness could make a difference. There are other ways to flavor foods that don't really require something that burns one's tongue.
Top 10 heartburn foods to eat
One of the best foods to avoid or subside heartburn, as it absorbs the excess acid in the stomach. Bananas work towards quietening heartburn in a short span of time. Drinking a glass of cool water after eating the banana also helps.
This luscious dairy product is a great stomach soother, and is fast gaining prominence on the menu. When you feel the start of a heartburn, have yogurt. Choose one that is made from natural sugar to keep your calorie count low. Alternately, if you do not have yogurt, even a glass of milk would suffice.
If you think you are on the verge of a heartburn, have some almonds, either the plain or roasted ones. Try to avoid the chocolate covered almonds. Having almonds eases up the digestive system much quicker.
It is not simply said that ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Have an apple to pacify the heartburn.
Papaya has natural enzymes that aid in digestion. Try to have a papaya either in the fruit form or the pill form.
Aniseeds relieve indigestion. Either use it sprinkled over yogurt or make tea from the aniseeds.
One of the nature’s best wonders, ginger has that ability to soothe your upset stomach. Add one teaspoon of powdered ginger to a cup of hot water to relieve the heartburn symptoms.
Fennel is a tradition digestive aid and cure for heartburn. Either chewing a few fennel seeds after meals or make tea with the seeds. Another option is include fennel in soups and stews.
Aloe vera juice
It is now common knowledge that aloe vera benefits us in many ways. One of the way is to drink aloe vera juice to calm the stomach. Try drinking it on a regular basis.
Carrots are not only healthy for the eyes and the skin but the stomach too. Eating carrot in the raw form would soothe the heartburn symptoms.
For many chronic acid reflux sufferers, they want an alternate, natural way of treating their acid reflux. These range from folk and homeopathic remedies to healthy diets to lifestyle changes. Supplements like calcium carbonate, licorice, aloe vera juice are recommended for immediate relief of heartburn symptoms. Fresh ginger can be ground and added to foods or taken in tea or capsule form. Herbalists recommend consuming 500mg. of ginger with a full glass of water after each meal. Herbal teas containing even trace amounts of peppermint, chamomile, ginger, licorice root and catnip help the stomach lining repair itself. Often, one cup of tea following dinner is enough to stave off future heartburn episodes.
Drink at least 8-glasses of water each day to rid the body of toxins and allow your body to expel acid naturally. Papaya enzymes are sold in chewable capsule form, and are taken immediately following a meal with a full glass of water. Consuming more fiber nutrient foods is another natural way to alleviate future suffering.
Medicines for heartburn
Several kinds of medicine can be used to treat heartburn. Antacids neutralize the acid that your stomach makes. For most people, antacids thatyou can get without a prescription (over-the-counter) give fast, short-term relief. However, if you use antacids too much, they can cause diarrhea or constipation. Look for antacids that contain both magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide. (One causes constipation while the other causes diarrhea so they counteract each other.) Some brands of antacids include Maalox, Mylanta and Riopan.
H2 blockers (some brand names: Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. Several are available without a prescription.
Other medicines, such as omeprazole (brand name: Prilosec) and lansoprazole (brand name: Prevacid), also reduce how much acid the stomach makes. Metoclopramide (brand name: Reglan) reduces acid reflux. To find out what medicine is right for you, talk with your doctor.
Remember to visit your doctor
If you have not done so, please consult your physician if attacks continue (despite the fact that you stay away from foods that cause heartburn), for the reason that it may be an indicator of another serious medical problem that should be treated. Antacids, acid blockers, and perhaps surgery may provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into more serious disease.
It is very important to take your medication every day. If you are prone to forgetting, leave yourself a note to remind you or take your medication when you do another daily activity that you don't forget doing, such as brushing your teeth or washing your face.
Disclaimer: This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regime, it is advisible to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.