Commonly known as acid indigestion, heart burn is a sensation that is experienced by many individuals around the world. The condition is felt just behind the breastbone and in some instances will rise to the chest, the throat, and even the angle of the jaw. The term heart burn is used interchangeably with indigestion and dyspepsia. There is however a subtle distinction between the two: The latter is a combination of heart burn and gastric pain whilst the former is just that – indigestion. Evidently from the above descriptions it is looks quiet difficult to single out a case of heart burn. The article will as such attempt to look at the plot around this condition. Here goes.
Causes of Heartburn
The first cause of heartburn is attributed the contents of the stomach backing back into the esophagus. This is attributed to weak esophagus muscles that fail to close tightly. If you have this condition repeated for over two weeks, then you should seek medical advice. The likelihood that you could be suffering from gastroesophageal reflex disease, also known as GERD, is a possibility. This is a medical condition that manifests itself with the individual basically tasting the contents of the stomach at the back of their mouth. Also on account of the fact that the contents of the stomach go back to the esophagus one might feel a burning sensation in the chest region. This is a condition that must be immediately arrested. A delayed intervention will result in the long term use of medication to neuter the acid. In the worst case scenario, a prolonged episode of heartburn might require the individual to go for surgery to intervene in this situation.
Another factor that can cause heartburn is a medical condition referred to as Hiatal Hernia. This is a medical condition where the stomach is pushed upwards through the diaphragm and into the chest. The natural bent of such an episode is that the pressure continues been exerted upwards, and this could possibly cause the muscles at the base of the esophagus to open up. The corollary is that a portion of the stomachs contents are then opened up and this leads to hear burn.
Symptoms of Heartburn
As stated from the outset of the article heartburn is often confused with many medical conditions. Folk often think that at the outset of heartburn they are experiencing a heart attack or even a bout of indigestion. This however is not the case. The following are the dead give aways that an individual is possibly experiencing a bout of heart burn:
- Foremost is the fact that in the event that the person regurgitates – either by reflex or intentionally- they often experience a sour taste at the back of their mouth. In a case of an individual afflicted by chronic heart burn , the situation is often made worse if the individual in question is lying down , bending over , and exerting some strain on themselves.
- The second dead give away that an individual is experiencing a bout of heart burn could possibly be highlighted by the feeling of lumps being present in ones throat. These lumps could indicate the presence of stomach acid being present in the throat. The presence of this stomach acid has the effect of causing a hoarse voice, a chronic cough , and even tooth damage on account of the fact that the acid( that is at the back of the mouth) tends to corrode the enamel.
- The third give away that an individual is battling with heartburn is that they have difficulty in swallowing. The by product of this is that the individual might experience weight loss and become dehydrated. On rare occasions the individual might have traces of blood in fecal matter. This occurs in instances when the esophagus is damaged to the point where it actually bleeds. When matters get to this point , the condition is said to be critical. This however is a rarity of sorts ,and when it does occur it requires immediate medical intervention. The symptoms highlighted here are normally the dead give away that an individual is experiencing heart burn. Arrest the disease in its early stages.
Heartburn Home Remedies
The home remedies for heartburn that are deployed to manage this condition are as follows: Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Bromelain– Bromelain, which is extracted from the juice and the stems of the pineapples, can be used to treat heart burn. It has been used for a number of years in South and Central America. The compound found in the herb can effectively be used to help digest proteins and thus reduce heart burn. The herb comes on capsule or tablet form. However, if you are allergic to pineapples, you should avoid bromelain as it could lead to serious reactions.
- Peppermint– Peppermint has numbing effects that treat a number of digestive conditions including heart burn. Pepper mint should not be used when you are suffering from GERD. It should be taken in tea or by preparing tea from it. All you have to do is boil the herb in a cup of water for ten minutes. Strain the tea once it is cooled and drink it up to five times a day.
- Barberry– For a number of years, barberry has been used to effectively treat a number of abdominal symptoms. The herb is commonly used in Iran to treat abdominal discomfort. Recent studies show that it can be used to treat indigestion as well as reduce gastrointestinal discomfort. The dried roots can be added to tea or it can be taken in form of fluid extracts or capsules.
- Devil’s Claw– The devil’s claw, a shrub found in Southern Africa, is used to relieve heartburn symptoms. The herb can be taken in form of capsules, liquid extracts or tablets. It has no known side effects and should be administered by a certified herbalist. If the drug is taken as an overdose; it can lead to stomach upsets.
- Chamomile– The English or Roman chamomile can be used to treat gas as well as heart burn. The flower tops of the plant are used to make liquid extracts and tea. The herb can be taken in form of capsules or tablets.
- Diet– Maintaining a proper diet is something that you can apply when dealing with a situation of heart burn. Emphasis is strongly placed on a diet that is alkaline in nature for those who are suffering from heartburn. The logic behind this is that an alkaline diet tends to neutralize the acidic chyme, and consequently even when the food is regurgitated a great chunk of its acidity has been neutered. Whilst still on matters diet . it is important to note that there are certain foods that essentially exacerbate the condition. In mind are items of food such as liquor.
- Position Your Stomach– Another, intervention that one who has heartburn can elect to pursue is by ensuring that the manner that they position themselves in no way causes the stomach to curve upwards and thus opening the spinchter muscles that lead to the esophagus. Consequently avoid poses that see you curl in a fetal position , or bending in a way that ensures that the diaphragm exerts some pressure on the stomach. The operative word here is positioning. Ensure that your body is positioned in such a fashion that no distress is caused on the entire system.
- Losing Weight– Shedding excess weight should help. Experts avow that when individuals pile on the pounds the fat around the organs might exert a degree of pressure on the stomach, the result of this is that the chyme gets pushed into the stomach and this could possibly result in incidences of heart burn. This is of course the surface view of things. The scientific take on the matter is that when there is excess fat in the body ,the might be some hormonal disturbance that affects how the body operates. The end result of this is that you essentially end up having a situation where some of the body's functions are erratic.
Diet for Heartburn
The following are some of the methods that can be used to manage heart burn with diet:
- Foremost ensure that you eat small meals as opposed to the standard three meals a day arrangement. The advantage of a light meal is that it does not exert pressure on the spinchter muscles thus forcing them to open up, and releasing the acid chyme into the esophagus.
- The second way that you can manage heartburn using diet is via judiciously deciding what goes in and out of the gut. Foods such as cakes, caffeine products, and spicy foods have been known to exacerbate GERD symptoms. This in no way means that you doom yourself to a diet of natural foods, you can eat with some degree of regulation and this will result in lowered incidences of heart burn.
- Thirdly, if your are a smoker quit the habit. This is on account of the fact that nicotine has a way of exacerbating GERD symptoms. This is because smoking has the effect of relaxing spinchter muscles that might result in the contents of the stomach sliding back into the esophagus. Smoking also comes with the effect of causing bile salts to slide from the small intestines into the stomach and this reduces the amount of saliva that you produce. This is dangerous because saliva helps flush out acid from the esophagus and contains bicarbonate – a natural base to neutralize the stomach acid.
Prevention of Heartburn
The trick to battle this condition of heartburn lies in falling back on the old wisdom – prevention is better than cure. You can prevent this condition by foremost watching your weight – remember what the article has alluded to about obesity and its link to heartburn. Similarly ensure that you do not maintain destructive habits such as smoking. The article has explained the destructive effect that smoking has on the digestive tract. The posture that one maintains is also important. Ensure that you do not maintain postures that overtime are destructive to the spinchter muscles. And lastly diet. Eat right , eat smart, eat to live and don't live to eat( sic). If followed judiciously, then you can be assured that matters heartburn will be a concept that is alien to you.
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