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Heartburn - Unpleasant Experience

Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of the digestive tract diseases, especially its upper part (esophagus, stomach and duodenum). It is a very uncomfortable symptom that manifests itself as burning sensation in the stomach or behind the breastbone. Burning may sometimes be felt in the throat and mouth as well. Heartburn is felt to a greater extent when bending or in a lying position, and it is more common in obese people and pregnant women.

Causes of Heartburn

One should be careful in the assessment of pain behind the sternum, because except for the heartburn, the same pain is common in heart diseases, loco motor system disorders and less frequently in lung diseases. Most frequent cause of heartburn is a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, which, like other sphincters in the digestive system, prevents the content to return in the opposite direction. Weaker innervation, the influence of some hormones and drugs, or inborn or acquired abnormalities may be the reasons of heartburn development. There are several disorders that cause the occurrence of heartburn or heartburn is one of their symptoms: eating too much, especially before going to bed, oily food, which reduces the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter and causes slow stomach emptying. In addition, soft drinks, sweets, consumption of alcohol and nicotine very often result in heartburn. Difficult stomach emptying - its pylorus constriction which may be due to inflammatory or malignant diseases also weaken sphincter tone. Surgical removal of the entire stomach is also accompanied with heartburn and inflammatory changes in the esophagus. Increased amount of hydrochloric acid and pepsin causes heartburn, which is in turn a regular occurrence in gastroduodenal ulcer. Also, the returning of alkaline duodenal juice causes the occurrence of this phenomenon. Besides that, different diseases, such as hiatus hernia can also cause heartburn – stomach prolapses into esophagus.

What to Do?

Treatment of heartburn is related to its cause. Still there are some generally accepted measures:

diet low in fat, frequent small meals, avoiding carbonated drinks, quit smoking, reducing consumption of tea and coffee, not eating several hours before going to bed, avoiding lying down after meals, sleeping with a raised pillow.

Recommended drugs include:

those that neutralize stomach acid - the best is the combination of magnesium and aluminum, drugs that coat lining of the esophagus and stomach, those that reduce the creation acid, medications that reinforce the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter and drugs which speed up stomach discharging.

Finally, it should be noted that in some pathological states, accompanied with persistent heartburn, surgical treatment should be performed.

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