Heartburn – What is It?
Surprisingly heartburn is not a heart problem. It is actually a problem of the digestive system. It is the result of the digestive acid in your stomach reaching the esophagus.
The acid is meant to digest your food and reduce bones and other hard material to extract the nutrients. The stomach has a protective lining against the effects of the acid, but your food pipe or esophagus does not.
Therefore, when the acid reaches the esophagus, it causes an irritation, resulting in heartburn. The entry of acid into the esophagus occurs because the valve that separates the stomach and esophagus relaxes or becomes problematic.
A problem in the functioning of this valve is also a symptom of the more serious Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly known as GERD. Apart from this condition, the following actions can also weaken the valve:
- Eating sugars, alcohol, fried and fatty foods, chocolates, etc.
- Wearing tight clothes, obesity, lifting, or bending down frequently
- Having certain medications
- Smoking cigarettes
- Eating a large quantity of food just before sleeping
Have you ever felt a sudden sensation of burning or pain inside your chest and near your heart? If your answer is ‘yes’, then you may have suffered from heartburn and you are definitely not alone. It is a very common problem today, which is why it’s important that you know as much as possible about the condition.
In most cases, it is mild and happens once a month or so, but severe cases of this condition need to be diagnosed and taken care of as soon as possible. However, before you learn the telltale signs of this condition, you should know what exactly you are dealing with.
How can you identify acid reflux?
Well, it is easy to understand. After all, almost everyone would have experienced it at some point in his or her life, and the name itself explains its symptoms. As its name suggests, heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation or pain in the chest area.
The pain and unpleasant burning sensation may move up from the lower abdomen and go all the way up the throat. In many cases, people suffering from acid reflux may also feel sourness in their mouth. They may also feel as if the food they just ate had come up to their mouth.
If you suffer from this condition occasionally or less than once every month, you have a mild case of heartburn. If the frequency is once a week or so, it is moderate. Severe acid reflux occurs when you suffer from it every night or more than once every day. Mild to moderate condition is usually just an occasional nuisance, but severe heartburn may trigger complications if it is left untreated.
Heartburn can also be a symptom of GERD, which is a very serious condition. And it can lead to serious medical conditions like Barrett’s esophagus or even esophageal cancer. If you suffer from it more than a few times per week, you should consult your doctor instead of brushing it off as a nuisance.
This condition generally tends to subside on its own unless it is severe. However, you can manage acid reflux and prevent by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.