What Is Heartburn?

Tuesday, 02 Nov 2010 11:43 AM

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Heartburn refers to a burning sensation felt in the chest and the throat region, usually after eating a meal. Heartburn is usually a symptom of a medical condition known as GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. A prolonged state of acidosis may lead to a host of problems such as osteoporosis or weakening of bones, thinning of the stomach lining, gastric ulcers and gastritis. However, the knowledge of common heartburn symptoms and heartburn causes can help prevent heartburn and help with early heartburn treatment.
 
The most common heartburn symptom is the feeling of a burning sensation experienced in the chest and throat. This burning sensation is the result of reflux or regurgitation (throwing up) of excess acid.When the acid reflux contents are thrown up to the throat, an unpleasant sour taste can be felt in the mouth.Other heartburn symptoms include difficulty swallowing food (dysphagia), coughing, and wheezing.

Our stomach normally secretes acid to facilitate the process of digestion. Heartburn occurs when our body produces more acid than what can be managed optimally. When our diet contains an excess of denatured and processed foods, meat, and high-fat dairy products, it may trigger an excess release of acid in the stomach and pose a heartburn risk. However, the list of foods that cause acidity may differ from person to person and should be determined by an individual in consultation with their physician. Pregnancy and old age are usually associated with fluctuating hormonal levels, weakening of muscles (even those of the stomach), and impairment of digestive functions. So, pregnant women and aged people are usually more prone to hyperacidity and heart burn. Certain medications may also influence acid production and  cause heartburn.
 
Heartburn Prevention
Our diet plays a key role in maintaining the acid-alkaline balance of our body and can either cause or prevent heartburn. The best way to prevent heartburn is by adding alkaline foods to the diet like green leafy vegetables, potatoes, gourds, and fruits like bananas, mangoes, and apples. The tendency to skip breakfast and maintain long gaps in between meals may also result in acid reflux or heartburn and should be avoided as a measure for heartburn prevention.
 
Tips for relieving heartburn include:
  • Avoid foods containing caffeine, refined and processed foods, hot spices, chocolate, alcohol, and deep-fried foods.
  • Switching from two to three large meals a day to small and frequent meals may help counter heartburn. Losing weight may also help reduce acid pressure for people who are overweight.
  • One of the best heartburn remedies is to avoid drinking water with meals, as this may lead to bloating and stomach distension.
  • Steer clear of large and fat-laden meals before bedtime, eat slowly, and exercise. Try not to go to sleep too soon after eating.
  • Natural heartburn remedies such as chamomile, cumin, and coriander help reduce heartburn symptoms.

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