That annoying and sometimes painful burning sensation in your chest and throat is the acid rising from the stomach, in other words, heartburn. Like many people who suffer from heartburn, you find yourself worried from time to time. This is mostly because there are misconceptions about what causes heartburn and what should be used to relieve the symptoms.
Frequently experiencing the symptoms of heartburn can be alarming too. It could mean that you suffer from the condition GERD that is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Heartburn twice a week or more qualifies as this condition. Sometimes people consume things that only make it worse.
The causes of heartburn include obesity, too much junk food, and no exercise. These are not immediate causes but a result of the buildup of these habits.
The main cause of heartburn is acid reflux, which is a failure of the gastroesophageal sphincter muscle. Our stomach contains hydrochloric acid, responsible for breaking down food and protecting the stomach from pathogens like bacteria.
There is a lining present in the stomach to protect from this strong acid. This lining does not extend to the esophagus. Between the stomach and the esophagus is a valve, the Sphincter, the primary function of which is to let food enter but not leave. When the valve stops working, acid reflux occurs and therefore heartburn. This major cause is one that cannot be easily controlled. However, there are plenty of causes and risk factors that can be eliminated through some changes in one’s lifestyle.
GERD influences people of all ages, so the condition cannot be narrowed down to a certain age. The number one cause of heartburn that cannot be prevented and most of the times becomes apparent is Hiatal Hernia. The condition is characterized by a hole in your diaphragm which lets the upper part of your stomach come into contact with the chest cavity, more than often it leads to GERD.
Some causes of heartburn or acid reflux that can be easily controlled include obesity, active or passive smoking, not getting enough exercise, and some medications as well like antidepressants sedatives, painkillers, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, and drugs to treat asthma.
Another cause of heartburn is pregnancy. This happens when there is extra pressure on one’s internal organs.
Your choices in diet can lead to acid reflux. When you consume too much caffeine, alcohol, acidic juices, table salt, chocolate, and carbonated drinks, they lead to heartburn. If your diet is low in fiber, or if you are eating larger meals than you need at one time, this may also cause acid reflux. The good news is that these causes are the most common ones, and also the ones that can be managed to eliminate the condition of heartburn. All you have to do is stick to a healthy diet which contains all the right nutrients. This will also help eradicate other health problems that you might be facing.
One research suggests that your choice in the diet may just be as effective as using PPIs when treating acid reflux and heartburn.
Heartburn can be sometimes a side effect of other esophagus diseases such as Scleroderma, which is an autoimmune condition caused by the thickened skin which leads to scarring, blood vessel problems, and ranging inflammation and pain. This condition is often connected to an overactive immune system. Autoimmune conditions occur when our body’s immune system attacks our own tissue.
The other disease linked to our esophagus which causes heartburn is Sarcoidosis. The inflamed tissue can appear in any organ – mostly occurs in the lungs. No one really knows what causes this disease. The annoying thing about this disease is that it can appear and disappear on its own and with that, it causes a lifetime of symptoms such as heartburn. The disease may even progress where lumps or granulomas appear. Most times, these lumps disappear on their own forever without treatment allowing the tissue to heal.
Complications Linked to Heartburn
Acid reflux or heartburn comes with its fair share of complications. When ignored, it generates recurrent irritation and the continuous inflammation of the esophagus tube, which further leads to tissue breakdown and ulcers. These cause serious bleeding. Other complications include scarring as well as changes in the cells that line the esophagus. This event causes the condition called Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is deemed an associated risk towards esophageal cancer.
Heartburn is very much treatable. Some main options include drugs, treatments that can be bought online like antacids, H2 blockers like ranitidine, cimetidine, and famotidine, and the use of PPI’s like esomeprazole, and omeprazole. The use of PPIs and H2 blockers causes a lower acid production to thwart the damage done by acid reflux. Other than changing your lifestyle, these medications are excellent as they are safe and effective to use. You can use a reliable telemedicine platform to contact your GP and know more about the medication and lifestyle changes.