At some point we have all experienced that terrible, burning, tightening feeling in our chest. HEARTBURN!!!
If this sounds like you, then let’s look at how you can get some relief.
Usually heartburn is brought on by something we have drank or eaten in the few hours prior to symptoms beginning. In those cases, it can be dealt with by taking an over-the-counter antacid and forgotten.
However, it is best to just avoid heartburn all together. If you find yourself getting heartburn on a fairly regular basis, in spite of a change in your diet, it is time to look at the issue more closely. Also, keep in mind that the heartburn you are experiencing could also be a symptom of an underlying condition.
First, let’s cover the dietary aspect of what could be causing your heartburn. There are a number of foods and drinks that, for one reason or another, are more likely to cause heartburn than others. If heartburn has become fairly common in your day to day life it may be time to cut back or cut out the following from your diet.
Common Causes of Heartburn from Food
- Caffeine (Yes, I know. This one hurts to hear.)
Not to say you should cut out all caffeine, even though that would be ideal, but try and keep it to one caffeinated beverage a day. And that doesn’t mean one of those half-gallon cups that can fit an entire pot of coffee in it. Try and limiting yourself to one 6 ounce cup a day.
- Carbonated Beverages -This generally goes along with caffeine. Carbonated beverages can cause distention of the stomach and esophagus which can cause acid reflux. Cutting back on these beverages can help cut down on heartburn flare-ups.
- Highly Acidic Fruits and Vegetables – Foods that are highly acidic are very likely to be the cause of a heartburn attack. Try to avoid citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons due to their high levels of citric acid. Another food to avoid is tomatoes. Tomatoes contain a large amount malic and citric acid. The large amounts of acid being introduced into the stomach through your diet, followed by the making of gastric acid by your body to help you digest your food, can lead to there being too much acid in the stomach and forcing it up into the esophagus.
- Garlic, Onions, and Other Spicy Foods – Spicy and garlicky dishes may not be as hard for you to give up as some of the other items on this list. They aren’t for everyone. However, because spicy dishes tend to be high in acidic ingredients, such as onions and garlic, it would be best to avoid them as much as possible. It’s may be worth the hour of heartburn for people who do not suffer from it on a regular basis, but if you will be “paying for” one meal for several days, it may be best to avoid it all together.
- Alcohol – While, as any doctor will tell you, it is best to avoid alcohol altogether, when you do feel the need to indulge but suffer from heartburn it is a good idea to keep in mind the tips you have already read. Avoid carbonated beverages such as beer or champagne. Also, steer clear of mixed drinks that include orange, lemon, or lime juice. Plus, remember moderation is key. Alcohol may help you relax, but it also relaxes parts of your body you don’t think about. The alcohol relaxes your stomach and esophageal muscles that prevent acid from coming up.
Now that we have looked some of the dietary reasons you may be having heartburn it is time to look at some of the medical conditions that could be causing you gastric pain.
- Hiatal Hernia -Heartburn is a common symptom of a hiatal hernia. This is when the upper part of your stomach push up into your diaphragm. There is no known cause for hiatal hernias except that there is a weakening of the muscles between the stomach and the diaphragm. Unfortunately, because the stomach can lose circulation, often surgery is the only option to treat the hiatal hernia.
- Peptic Ulcers -Peptic Ulcers are usually a result of inflammation and are very common. The most common symptom is a burning from, around, your navel up to your chest. Usually, peptic ulcers can be easily treated with medication.
- Gastritis – This is a weakening of the stomach lining that leads to damage of the stomach from its own digestive acids. Essentially, your body is turning on itself. Along with heartburn, you may also experience nausea and vomiting, indigestion, and having a full feeling at the top of your stomach. With this condition, treatment is usually determinate by the cause of the onset to begin with.
These are just a few examples of underlying conditions that could be causing your chronic heartburn. Unfortunately, most people look at heartburn as something they have just grown accustomed to dealing with in their daily routine; like brushing their teeth.
Because it is often ignored or treated on a one time basis every time, as being a part of life, it can cause severe and irreversible damage to your body without you even realizing it.
The main point to take away is that heartburn should not be part of your routine. If dietary changes aren’t working and you are experiencing flares often (2 or more times a week) it is time to make an appointment and check with your doctor about what could be the underlying cause and how to best give you some relief.