Heartburn, a painful burning sensation in the chest and lower throat, affects an estimated 20% of Americans. Heartburn is a fairly common symptom of acid reflux, which is the escape of acid from the stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). While mild bouts of heartburn can most often be attributed to individual instances of consuming food and drink with high levels of acidity, in some cases, recurring heartburn may point to a greater health issue.
What some common heartburn symptoms?
Some of the most common sensations associated with heartburn include:
- Pain throughout the chest that rises into the throat
- Discomfort following meals
- Return of reflux that leaves an acidic taste in the mouth
- Coughing that causes a burning feeling
- Interrupted sleep
What are some of the most common causes of heartburn?
Heartburn can occur for a variety of reasons. During digestion, the stomach produces a cocktail of gastric juices that aid in the breakdown and proper absorption of nutrients. The contents of the stomach are highly acidic, and in order to prevent the return of food and damage to the esophagus, the LES seals when food is not traveling into the stomach. For some people, intense physical activity, overeating, and lying on one’s back, cause the muscles of the LES to loosen. Acid then escapes from the stomach and results in the symptoms of heartburn.
Can Heartburn Be Prevented?
Maintaining good habits such as eating high-fiber fruits and vegetables in place of greasy or fried foods, and avoiding acidic foods right before bed can help reduce instances of heartburn as well as contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle. Smoking, one of the leading causes of dry mouth and the erosion of the esophageal wall, can also lead to heartburn, and reducing one’s tobacco intake can sometimes reduce symptoms.
What if my heartburn is something more serious?
Chronic and unusually painful heartburn might be indicative of a more serious medical issue. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), referred to as acid reflux disease is a relatively common condition that can be controlled through proper medication and adjustments to lifestyle. In cases of chronic heartburn and unusually painful symptoms, always consult with a healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about the symptom you are experiencing, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.
We hope this basic information about heartburn and acid reflux has helped you understand some of the symptoms you may be experiencing as well as gives you the confidence to reach out to your healthcare professional about any of these symptoms. We often get asked about the correlation between aloe vera and acid reflux, so learn more here.