When many people hear the word, heartburn, for the first time, they tend to assume that it is related to the heart, which is far from the truth. Many people have experienced heartburn on at least one occasion. You know that burning sensation in the chest; you get it after eating, in the evenings, or when lying down. That is what is called heartburn. In fact, it is estimated that almost half of Americans have had heartburn at least once in their lifetime, which means you definitely know someone who has had heartburn. Heartburn is usually caused by the reflux of gastric (stomach) acid into the esophagus — a tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
Heartburn Can Mimic A Heart Attack
The burning sensation associated with heartburn occurs right in front of the heart, which is located in the middle of your chest, slightly deviated to the left in most people, and so, many confuse it with a heart attack. Is it a heart attack or a heartburn? Heartburn is burning in nature, and may sometimes radiate to the throat and neck. In contrast, a heart attack or what doctors call ischemic heart disease, feels like a tightness, or squeezing in the center, or left side of the chest, and may be associated with pain dull in nature, which often radiates into the left arm, the right side of the chest, the right arm, or the back of the neck. A heart attack can destroy the heart within minutes, or even kill, so whenever in doubt, call an ambulance.
Common Causes of Heartburn
At the end of the esophagus, is the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which acts like a door, which opens and closes just to let food into your stomach. When this door becomes weak, gastric acid can move up the esophagus, causing heartburn. A common condition which causes this problem is hiatal hernia, which occurs when the upper part of the stomach moves into the chest. Pregnancy can push the stomach up, causing this problem. Besides pregnancy, obesity, frequent coughing, straining, and vomiting can also push the stomach into the chest, weakening the door to your stomach and thereby allowing gastric acid to move up.
Home Made Remedies May Be All You Need
Most cases of heartburn aren't so severe, and can therefore be treated using simple homemade recipes. As we said, heartburn is caused by stomach acid moving up, so drinking a glass of water may just be all that is needed. Drinking water about half an hour before eating can help greatly, and even lubricate the esophagus. Besides water, peppermint tea also makes an extremely effective remedy. Also, raw carrots, and paradoxically ginger, which has a burning sensation in the mouth, are effective home remedies which calm the heartburn in your chest.
You May Need Prescription Drugs or Surgery
Sometimes, you need more than ordinary homemade remedies in order to cure your heartburn. When the homemade remedies fail consult your doctor, who may conduct some tests, and depending on the results may prescribe drugs, or even perform surgery just to relieve your heartburn. The most common prescription medication for heartburn is an antacid, which neutralizes gastric acid. Your doctor may even ask you to go for an endoscopy, which is nothing but a procedure in which a tube is pushed through your mouth to look at your esophagus, stomach, and upper part of your duodenum.
You now have more than enough information about heartburn, why it occurs, and also how you can treat it. Heartburn shouldn't be a problem for you any longer. Don't ever let heartburn control you, or ruin your life.