Contrary to what the name may imply, heartburn isn’t caused by anything related to the heart; rather it’s more of an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest that occurs when stomach acid reenters the esophagus tube connecting your stomach and mouth. Remedies for Heartburn can last from several minutes up to several hours at a time – so it is understandable why many are looking for ways to alleviate their discomfort quickly.
What causes heartburn and what does it feel like exactly?
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, stomach acid is essential in breaking down food you ingest; however, this doesn’t present problems for the stomach itself; however, esophageal issues arise as a result.
To keep acid and food out of your esophagus and ensure that stomach acids stay where they belong (i.e. your stomach), an esophagus-like ring of muscles at the bottom of your tube known as the lower esophageal or sphincter serves as an esophagus valve – when opened it allows food into your stomach while when closed it prevents acid and food from remaining stuck there and getting stuck further upstream.
If a valve weakens and stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, acid reflux and heartburn could occur – two well-known and obvious symptoms of an impaired valve system.
Heartburn may cause different sensations depending on its intensity; however, its symptoms include:
- Burning sensation is felt within your chest just behind your breastbone.
- As your throat becomes increasingly painful, the burning sensation worsens.
Have a bitter or sweet taste in your mouth? Are you experiencing symptoms of acid reflux? If you do, or are feeling that something tastes strange in your mouth, try these suggestions to remedy the situation.
Heartburn and acid reflux may be caused by medical issues or medications you take; however, more often it’s the result of lifestyle and diet decisions, making episodes of heartburn relatively frequent.
Common triggers of heartburn include:
- Eating too quickly or overeating may lead to obesity and/or diarrhoea.
- Not obtaining enough sleep after having eaten
Certain foods and drinks, including carbonated drinks, caffeine, peppermint extract, alcohol and tomato-based products as well as chocolate, spicy or fatty food items, are consumed.
Being overweight, smoking and experiencing stress and anxiety are the leading causes of acid reflux and heartburn, so here are nine strategies you can try to quickly reduce it or eradicate the symptoms:
Keep a food journal and avoid trigger foods
As was noted previously, certain food and drinks can lead to acidity and heartburn, making your digestive tract feel uncomfortable and contributing to issues. By keeping a journal of diet and symptoms, it may help identify culprits more quickly. Once this has happened, try and eliminate them whenever possible from your diet or lifestyle choices.
Resist the urge to overeat or eat quickly
Limiting the size of your portions at meals can help mitigate heartburn. Too much food consumed could stress out the valve that keeps stomach acid away from esophageal tissue, increasing your chances of heartburn and acid reflux. If you tend to experience heartburn frequently, try having smaller meals more often; fast eating can trigger it so be sure to take enough time chewing your food and sipping on beverages before diving in!
Avoid late meals, snacking before bed and eating before exercising
Sitting down with an overstuffed stomach may exacerbate acid reflux symptoms and heartburn symptoms, so try not to eat within three hours of bedtime so your stomach has time to fully empty before beginning physical activity or engaging in any vigorous exercises. Also recommended: rest for at least two hours prior to engaging in any vigorous physical activities such as weight training.
Eat alkaline foods, like a ripe banana
The banana’s high potassium content makes it an alkaline food, according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, which could help counteract acidity of your stomach which may cause irritation. Unripe bananas tend to be less acidic but more starch-laden – this can actually increase acid reflux symptoms for some individuals, so make sure you select ripe ones when purchasing bananas!
Wear loose-fitting clothing
If you are more susceptible to heartburn than average, belts that are too tight as well as clothing that presses against your stomach could exacerbate its discomfort.
Adjust your sleep position
Lifting your chest and head higher than your feet while sleeping is one way to ease heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. An inflatable wedge placed beneath the mattress or by elevating bedposts with wood blocks may work effectively; be wary of stacking pillows too close together – they won’t help reduce symptoms! Furthermore, sleeping on your left side may help improve digestion, lessen acid reflux in your stomach and ultimately lessen its severity.
Take steps to lose weight if you are overweight
Increased weight can put added strain on the stomach, increasing your risk for acid reflux or heartburn. A balanced diet and participating in 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week are two effective steps toward both maintaining your current weight and losing excess pounds.
Stop smoking if you smoke
Smoking reduces saliva production and weakens the effectiveness of valves that prevent stomach acid from seeping back up through your esophagus, increasing acid reflux risk. Quitting cigarettes may decrease its severity or frequency or, in certain instances, completely eradicate it.
Chronic stress can put undue physical strain on your body, slowing digestion and increasing chances of discomfort. As food sits longer in your stomach, more acid may leak out resulting in heartburn pain being experienced more intensely; taking steps to decrease stress could reduce its symptoms as well.