Tips against heartburn

Tips against heartburn

Heartburn usually manifests itself as a burning sensation in the throat and a sour  taste  in the mouth. The burning chest pain is caused by the backflow of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux) into the esophagus. The symptom of heartburn (pyrosis) can be harmless, but it doesn’t have to be. You should see your doctor to find out the cause.

Heartburn is a common ailment: in Germany every second person suffers from it. Some only from time to time, others frequently. Pregnant women and the elderly are often affected. Many “heartburn sufferers” are also familiar with acid  regurgitation  and a feeling of pressure in the chest area. We reveal what helps against heartburn.

Heartburn: valve into the acid

To understand how heartburn develops, it’s worth looking at how digestion works. Every day our body produces about two to three liters of gastric juice, the task of which is to process the chyme and eliminate harmful microorganisms. This is why the gastric juice is very acidic with a pH value of 0.8 to 1.5.

The esophagus is a muscular tube about 25 centimeters long and one centimeter in diameter that is lined with mucous membrane. It connects the pharynx with the stomach. There is a sphincter (esophageal sphincter) at the entrance to the stomach. This is like a valve that relaxes during swallowing and opens to the stomach. The contents of the esophagus can flow into the stomach.

Normally, this path is a one-way street. The aggressive and highly acidic gastric juice poses no danger to the stomach thanks to its resistant mucous membrane. However, the esophagus is very sensitive. If the valve leaks, stomach acid can backflow and damage the esophagus.

Causes of heartburn

Heartburn can have a variety of causes. These include  stress  and certain  eating habits,  such as eating too much fat or eating too late. The following reasons, among others, can cause a disorder of the sphincter muscle and thus cause heartburn:

  • Psychologically stressful situations such as stress stimulate gastric acid production and trigger heartburn.
  • Certain foods affect sphincter pressure.
  • Some medications (including some painkillers) may be involved. Ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • A diaphragmatic hernia may have occurred. Part of the stomach moves through the opening in the diaphragm into the chest cavity.
  • In pregnant women, the hormone  progesterone causes  the sphincter to relax, and the greatly enlarged uterus presses against the stomach and, as a result, its contents into the esophagus.
  • In people who are overweight, it also happens that more stomach contents escape into the esophagus.

Heartburn may be a warning sign of an organic disease such as a  stomach ulcer  or gastritis. This should be clarified by an examination by your doctor.

Burns of the esophageal mucosa

Occasional acid reflux is not a cause for concern at first. However, if the mucous membrane of the esophagus is regularly exposed to the corrosive gastric juice, approximately several times a week, mucous membrane irritation and damage (reflux esophagitis) can occur. Under certain circumstances, the mucous membrane is completely destroyed, internal bleeding or a narrowing of the esophagus can occur.

The upper respiratory tract, teeth and gums can also be affected by the acid flowing back.

If left untreated, heartburn can lead to a disease such as esophagitis. In the worst case, an ulcer or cancer can even form.

By the way: The English name “Heartburn” (Heartburn) is misleading because the heart is not involved in heartburn. However, heartburn causes a burning warmth in the chest area, which is where the name comes from.

15 tips and home remedies for heartburn

Below you will find some tips and home remedies that can help against annoying heartburn.

  1. Eat several (five to six) small meals a day. Large meals are very voluminous and lead to an overfull stomach contents. The risk of stomach acid being pushed into the esophagus is increased.
  2. Especially in the evening, you should avoid heavy meals and not eat too late.
  3. Do not lie down immediately after eating.
  4. It is helpful to sleep with your upper body slightly elevated.
  5. Reduce your weight if you weigh too many kilos.
  6. Avoid stress, as this is a common trigger for heartburn. Relaxation exercises, exercise, Meditation and rest can help reduce stress and therefore heartburn.
  7. Avoid wearing tight clothing and loosen your belt.
  8. A hunched or stooped posture promotes reflux.
  9. Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  10. Avoid highly acidic drinks such as grapefruit or lemon juice, as well as other juices made from citrus fruits.
  11. Proven home remedies include teas with chamomile, fennel or caraway.
  12. Chewing gum chewing is said to reduce reflux; Apparently the increased saliva production when chewing gum protects the mucous membrane of the esophagus.
  13. Studies have shown that sweets, for example chocolate, can be a trigger for people who struggle with heartburn . In these cases, the theobromine contained in the chocolate is responsible.
  14. The influence of Coffee on heartburn is not fully understood. Coffee consumption may worsen the symptoms.
  15. Many people describe experiencing heartburn after eating spicy, spicy food. However, the type of active ingredients in the herbal spices differs considerably, which is why a uniform assessment is not possible. Research has shown that the active ingredient capsaicin, which is responsible for the spiciness in chili peppers, increases the sensitivity of the esophagus to gastric juice, thus intensifying the burning sensation.

Does milk help with heartburn?

You keep reading recommendations to drink milk if you have heartburn. This results from the assumption that the protein in ​​milk buffers stomach acid. Previously, patients with this clinical picture were fed exclusively with milk.

Whether that helped is questionable. On the one hand, such a one-sided diet is not recommended to anyone and, on the other hand, scientists have proven that milk even stimulates acid production in the stomach.

Treat heartburn with medication

Heartburn can also be treated with pills. Antacids,  which neutralize gastric juice, and  proton pump inhibitors  (PPI, also known as proton pump inhibitors), which inhibit the formation of an enzyme that is required for acid secretion , are primarily used to treat heartburn  .

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