The feeling of discomfort caused by heartburn occurs in millions of people.
It rises up, burning in the chest and throat, the sign of stomach acid becoming backed up within the esophagus. The esophagus of course carries food from the mouth to the stomach and is the true location of heartburn, the name of which is a misnomer. Heartburn is a widespread problem that is a symptom of several different conditions and has several potential sources. It could indicate acid reflux or GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Sometimes it accompanies the bodily changes of pregnancy. The burning feeling in the chest, moving upward to the neck and throat, can also be paired with a taste experienced in the back of the throat that is bitter or sour. These sensations and tastes can last for as long as several hours or as brief as several minutes. Generally, it feels worse after eating or upon laying down without waiting long enough after eating. While occasional heartburn is common, regular heartburn that is severe should be a topic you bring up to your doctor. This article will focus on the common causes of heartburn.
1 - Pregnancy
To understand how pregnancy can cause heartburn, it is helpful to know how the esophagus and stomach function. When you swallow food, it passes down the esophagus, a long tube connecting your stomach and mouth. At the esophagus’s bottom is located a valve known as the esophageal sphincter. Normally closed, it opens to allow food passage through it before closing again so that the contents of the stomach are kept down. Within the stomach, an acidic mixture that is quite strong begins the process of breaking down the swallowed food; this process is known as digestion. While the stomach is designed to contain this mixture unphased, the esophagus cannot hold it without getting hurt. When someone is pregnant, hormones can cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, thus preventing it from closing as it ought. This permits the stomach acid to pass up into the esophagus.
2 - Hiatal hernia
In a hiatal hernia, the stomach’s upper portion bulges through the large muscle that separates the chest and abdomen; this is the diaphragm. That part of the stomach forces itself up and through into an area of the chest cavity. Symptoms include acid reflux, heartburn, nausea and burping. In fact, a hiatal hernia can be dismissed as simple heartburn by mistake. A hiatal hernia is possible because of the small opening, or hiatus, in the diaphragm. The opening permits the esophagus to pass through the diaphragm on its journey to the stomach. A small hiatal hernia generally causes no problems. It may go undiscovered until a doctor finds it while investigating other conditions. A large hiatal hernia, however, can permit acid and food back up through the esophagus, which leads to heartburn. These symptoms can generally be relieved by means of self-care measures. Otherwise, very large hernias can require surgery to remedy.
3 - GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disorder of the digestive system. It impacts the ring shape of muscle located between the stomach and the esophagus. This ring is part of the valve at the bottom of the esophagus; it is known as the LES or lower esophageal sphincter. In someone with GERD, acid indigestion or heartburn may occur. Doctors suspect that some people have it because of a hiatal hernia. Generally, symptoms of GERD can be eased through lifestyle and diet changes. Other people rely on medication to manage their symptoms, while others require surgery. Greater than 15 million American adults experience heartburn on a daily basis, and recent studies prove that GERD is experienced by children and infants much more commonly than previously supposed.
4 - Medications
When someone experiences regular heartburn, they may suspect that drink or food are the culprits. The actual blame may lie in their medicine cabinet. Certain common medications and pain relievers are known to cause heartburn, which is acid reflux’s most common symptom. Few people live their lives without a single experience of heartburn. But when it becomes frequent enough to be problematic, the source must be located. Heartburn can be caused by over the counter painkillers, medications for osteoporosis, supplements of iron, medications for high blood pressure, drugs for anxiety treatment, antidepressants, and antibiotics.