They say prevention is better than cure, but information is sometimes much better. When it comes to heartburn, this seems to hold true. There are several causes of heartburn, and knowing what these are can help prevent you from ever experiencing it.
Heartburn can be triggered by a lot of everyday things. The most prominent causes include being overweight and other lifestyle factors, such as smoking or eating certain foods. Foods such as citrus fruits, chocolates, spicy foods, caffeine and tomato-based dishes are commonly associated with heartburn attacks.
Lifestyle habits can also lead to an experience of heartburn. Apart from smoking, the most commonly noted causes of heartburn include drinking alcohol, being overweight and being pregnant. There are also activities that can trigger heartburn attacks. Among these is putting pressure on the full abdomen after eating huge meals and lying down after eating. A quick cure to this is eating smaller meals more frequently, and refraining from lying down for an hour or two after eating. Other activities that can bring about heartburn are lifting heavy things, bending and excessive movements or rigorous physical activities shortly after eating.
An important thing to note in diagnosing heartburn is distinguishing between esophageal pain (reflux) and cardiac pain (angina). Acid reflux occurs when we eat and food, liquids and saliva travels through the esophagus to the stomach. A small amount of stomach content can be regurgitated back up into the esophagus and then retreat back to the stomach. While normally, this does not cause any pain or side effects, when some of the digestive system's apparatus does not work properly, acid reflux occurs. The pain that is generated can manifest as heartburn, and can even lead to esophageal injury.
Heartburn can also point to an underlying disease, like peptic ulcer. Ulcers are lesions on the stomach or duodenum that appear when the stomach lining or duodenum wall is irritated or wounded. Stomach ulcers are also known as gastric ulcers, while those in the duodenum are called duodenal ulcers. Collectively, they are both referred to as peptic ulcers. Ulcers, while they can cause discomfort, are rarely life-threatening. Medications are available and can help decrease the pain caused by ulcers.
Also among the list of the causes of heartburn are hiatial hernias. A hiatial hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes into a diaphragm opening and goes up to the chest. The possibility that a hiatial hernia weaken the LES or the lower esophageal sphincter increases the risk of stomach acid reflux.
Indeed, some of the causes of heartburn can in fact be symptoms for another disease. To avoid heartburn, the first step is acquiring knowledge. Truly, information can be powerful, not to mention helpful.