Heartburn is a symptom or disease, whatever it may be, but it has accumulated millions of people. If you’re one among them suffering from heartburn, then you could know how unpleasant it will be. Heartburn is felt like burning in your chest or throat but actually, it is not dealt with by your heart. It is one of the symptoms of many different diseases.
Heartburn can remain from a few minutes to a few hours. But it can be treated easily at home itself with some medicinal herbs that we often use in our kitchen. Do you want to know what they are? Then go through the entire article, you’ll really get useful information here.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest and above the chest that is your neck and throat. This is one of the major symptoms in several diseases including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux, and even in pregnancy.
When you are feeling heartburn, you may also have a sour or bitter taste at the back of your throat. It can persist from several minutes to hours. It often goes worse after eating or when laying down quickly as soon as you eat.
Heartburn is fairly a common symptom. But, if you have it regularly, then it may be an indicator of chronic conditions like acid reflux disease (GERD). So inform your doctor immediately, if you experience severe heartburn more often.
Symptoms of Heartburn
It usually starts after eating and can last for hours or decrease within minutes. In addition to the burning sensation, you may also have coughing or hoarseness. You’ll have difficulty swallowing, that is, you may feel like your food has “stuck” in your throat. Also, you’ll have a hot, acidic, sour, or salty taste in your throat.
Many people experience severe heartburn when they lie down or bend over immediately after eating. This is because, while bending or laying down, you are allowing the stomach acid to move easily into the esophagus. When the stomach acid reaches your esophagus, you’ll feel irritation or burning in the chest region.
Causes of Heartburn
Heartburn is mainly caused by the backing up of stomach acid in the esophagus. The esophagus is the passage through which the food is moved from the mouth to the stomach. When the stomach acid is released up into the esophagus through a valve LES, the burning sensation is created.
Now, you’ll have a question: What is LES? LES or the lower esophageal sphincter is a valve located at the bottom of the esophagus. This is like a bridge connecting the esophagus and the stomach. The main function of the valve is to allow the food into the stomach and then tighten strongly to prevent the food from flowing back.
But when the LES becomes weak or doesn’t close the passage properly, the stomach acid can flow back easily into the esophagus. This is called reflux and at that time you’ll have a burning sensation, which is termed heartburn. Vomiting can also occur because of the weakened LES.
There are a few medical conditions that can easily cause reflux and make you feel heartburn. They include pregnancy, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Hiatal Hernia (stomach swells up into the chest), and some medications like aspirin ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory drugs. Tobacco in cigarettes too affect LES function; it relaxes the muscle and in turn causes heartburn.
Not only medical conditions, but your eating habits and foods can also cause heartburn. We can see that below.
What Can Trigger Heartburn?
Heartburn can be triggered by many things, but the most common cause is food and eating habits.
Eating habits like how large you’re having meals, how close to bedtime you eat, how spicy or salty you eat, and distress can also cause heartburn.
Some foods and drinks can also trigger heartburn. Those foods include citrus fruits, onions, tomatoes, alcohol, high-fat foods, coffee, chocolate, cheese, and peppermint.
Some lifestyle habits can also trigger heartburn due to too much pressure on the stomach and abdomen. That includes;
- Being overweight.
- Being pregnant
- Being a smoker.
- Wearing tight clothes and belts.
- Having a high-stress level.
How is Heartburn Treated?
Most people don’t go to hospitals to treat heartburn. Because it can be easily treated at home with medicinal herbs or by changing lifestyle habits. Occasional heartburn is common and is not a serious issue. However, if it goes frequent and severe, then immediately reach your healthcare provider. Because this can be a sign of some chronic conditions like GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, esophagitis, and even cancer. So your doctor will do an endoscopy to examine your digestive tract and give proper medications. Antacids and acid blockers are the typically used medications for heartburn.
How Can We Prevent Heartburn?
Heartburn can be prevented and managed by making changes in your diet and lifestyle. Just have a look at it.
- Don’t go to bed with a full stomach: Don’t lie down or sleep so
- on after you eat. Have dinner at least three to four hours before bed. This will give time to empty your stomach and reduces the chance of heartburn. So that you’ll not feel uncomfortable overnight.
- Avoid overeating. Reducing at least a few portions in your meals can help lower the risk of heartburn. Instead of eating three large meals, you can have four or five small meals. This will largely reduce heartburn.
- Consuming Slowly: Eating the food very fast is not good for health. Doctors always recommend eating slowly. This will also prevent heartburn. So put your fork down between bites and eat the food by enjoying its taste.
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes. Do belts and tight clothing cause heartburn? Yes, of course. Wearing tight clothes gives more pressure to your stomach, which can also lead to heartburn. So avoid such items in your wardrobe and wear loose and comfortable clothes to prevent heartburn.
- Avoiding certain foods: Some foods might trigger heartburn, but this is not common in all. People who experience heartburn by eating foods that are high in fat and acidic, should avoid those foods. Drinking alcohol should also be avoided to get rid of heartburn.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight also tends to cause heartburn. So try to lose some calories to relieve heartburn. You can also try some herbs that lose weight.
- Avoid smoking. We all know that smoking is injurious to health. It is applicable for heartburn also. The tobacco in cigarettes can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and thus creates heartburn. So avoid smoking to keep the valve strong and healthy, as well as your body.
- Sleep at your left side: This helps in fast digestion, so that the acid will be removed easily from your stomach and esophagus more quickly.
- Keep your head raised while sleeping: Tilt your head little up so that your head and chest will be higher than your feet. For lifting your head, don’t use pillows, instead use 6-inch blocks or books under the bed. Because pillows may lead you to put more pressure on your stomach and thus make heartburn worse.
- Regular Exercise: Regular exercise is the best solution for many illnesses. But for heartburn, planning is very important before you start your exercise. Don’t do it as soon as you complete the meal. Wait for at least two hours after a meal and then start exercising. If you work out any sooner, it may trigger heartburn. Also, drink plenty of water before and during exercise, because water helps digestion and prevents dehydration.
Herbal Solutions for Heartburn
Natural herbs and herbal extracts are also helpful in treating heartburn. Some people love natural remedies to cure diseases instead of eating tablets. For such people, here we’ve listed some herbs that help prevent heartburn symptoms.
- Chamomile: Drinking a cup of chamomile tea may help you cure heartburn. As chamomile is boasted with soothing properties, it helps in digestion and thus reducing heartburn. But don’t use chamomile if you have ragweed allergy.
- Ginger: The root of the ginger plant is a well-known herbal remedy for digestive issues. It has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for heartburn.
- Licorice Root: Licorice root is also used in treating heartburn. It increases the mucous coating of the esophageal lining and helps in resisting the burning effects of stomach acid.
- Other natural remedies. Many other natural herbs have also been used to treat heartburn in the earlier days, but there is no scientific evidence to prove their effectiveness. Fennel seeds, papaya tea, marshmallow root, and raw potato juice are also said to help in digestion and stop heartburn. But these are not approved by the FDA.
Though heartburn is very common, it may sometimes lead to serious health problems. We can’t say that we are healthy, because anything can happen at any time. So be cautious and preventive about your health. If you experience anything worse, then immediately consult your doctor to get cured easily.