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Information on Heartburn

Heartburn is a medical condition which does not have anything to do with the heart, unlike its name suggests. Some, but not all symptoms may be similar to symptoms of heart disease or heart attack. In this condition the stomach acid actually irritates the esophagus.

The muscular valve medically referred to as the esophageal sphincter serves the purpose of keeping stomach acid in the stomach. The valve is located below the rib cage and a little left of center. It allows the food to enter the stomach and it also permits belching, but as soon as any of these processes is over it closes again.

When the valve does not close tight enough or it simply opens too often the stomach acid enters the esophagus and causes the burning sensation widely known as heartburn. Heartburn is not a serious medical condition but in some cases it can become chronic which usually leads to the development of the gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Causes of Heartburn

There are numerous different factors and medical conditions that can be the cause of heartburn. The basic cause is the lower esophageal sphincter, but only in cases when it becomes underactive which means that it does not close as tight as it should.

Overeating provides the stomach with too much food and it can also trigger heartburn. Putting too much pressure on the stomach can also be one of the potential causes of heartburn.

Certain types of food tend to relax the lower esophageal sphincter which can lead to the development of heartburn. Those types of food include tomatoes, peppermint, citrus fruits, caffeinated products, garlic, alcohol, onions, coffee and chocolate. Animal and vegetable oils and fats can also often lead to the development of heartburn.

Other possible causes of heartburn may or may not include certain types of medications, stress and smoking. Caffeinated products relax the valve so the stomach acid enters the esophagus and causes heartburn. Chocolate causes heartburn in a similar way because, it contains theobromine which is known for relaxing the esophageal sphincter muscle.

Fatty and fried foods cause heartburn because they put additional pressure on the stomach and the esophageal sphincter muscle. Tomatoes relax the valve in the same manner as chocolate and caffeinated products do. Alcohol causes the muscle to relax in the same way as do the aforementioned types of food.

The same can be said for citrus fruits and numerous different tobacco products. Eating large meals, especially before bedtime and wearing tight fitting clothes can put additional pressure on the stomach and lead to the development of heartburn.

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