Also known as acid indigestion or pyrosis, is a burning sensation in the chest,just behind the breastbone or in the epigastrium. Ithappens when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, the tube that carriesfood from the mouth to the stomach.
The pain of heartburn often rises in the chest and may affect the neck, angleof the jaw, or the throat. Heartburn pain is often worsewhen lying down or bending over.
Each and every one has had this sensation, and, an occasional heartburn isnothing to be worried about. Most people can manage heartburnon their own with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.However, if it happens more often, so much that it may interfere with a person’sdaily routine, it may be an indicator of a much more serious condition. Inthese cases, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.
Normally, when a person swallows, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes to letthe food flow down into the stomach. Then it simply closes again. Once in the stomach, stomach acid digests the food.This acid is very strong and can damage most parts of the body.However, the stomach is protected by aspecial mucous layer. Theesophagus does not have any such special protection. If the lower esophagealsphincter does not close completely, if it relaxes abnormally or weakens, thelower part of the esophagus can be damaged by stomach acid flowing back up intothe esophagus. When this happens, heartburn may be experienced.
Symptoms of heartburn include: a burning painful sensation in the chest that mightoccur after eating or at night; and pain that worsens when bent or lying down.
Ithappens to everyone from time to time. However, if one has heartburnfrequently, they might have GERD (gastroesophagealreflux disease), which is a serious condition. This is why it isimportant that one consult a doctor as soon as the first symptoms havepresented themselves.
Getting Rid of Heartburn
There area few things a person might do to prevent heartburn. These include:Losing any excess weight. Excess fat around the stomach may put extrapressure on the stomach and actually force food and stomach acid back upthrough the lower esophageal sphincter.Antacids and surgery mayprovide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into more seriousdisease.Staying upright after a meal for a couple of hours. In this way,gravity helps the food stay in the stomach long enough to be properly digestedand sent on its way.Eating smaller portions. Too much food in the stomach may push up against thelower esophageal sphincter hard enough to open it. This is why one should tryand limit their portions.Avoiding certain foods. Some types of food are known to increase theirritation of the esophagus. These are: spicy, acidic, fatty, carbonated food,etc. Also, alcohol, caffeine and especially, tobacco smoke might relax the lower esophageal sphincter, so it isa good idea to stay away from them.