Heartburn and acid reflux is an uncomfortable ailment afflicting millions of people. Suddenly, you cannot eat your favourite foods any more without doubling over in pain. Or perhaps you find that bitter taste in your mouth more often than not and a searing chest pain makes you wonder if you are having a heart attack. While the symptoms may be shocking, there are just as many remedies for heartburn as there are causes, so suffering is not an option.
Are Heartburn and Acid Reflux the same
Heartburn and acid reflux are sometimes used interchangeably but heartburn is more a symptom of acid reflux.
Heartburn is an occasional mild to severe burning sensation in the chest, caused by stomach acid rising up into the throat (acid reflux).
A more chronic and severe form of acid reflux is called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn can also be a symptom of GERD.
Causes of Heartburn and Acid Reflux
As we get older, our ability to produce HCL (High Density Lipoprotein) digestive acids diminishes. After 65, we begin to produce 80% what we had just thirty years ago.
While it was once widely believed that heartburn acid reflux disease stemmed from overproduction of amino acids, recent research suggests that sometimes a lack of strong acids can affect our system’s natural triggers that facilitate mineral absorption, protein storage and waste removal.
Another cause of heartburn and acid reflux is diet choices.
As previously mentioned, when you eat a lot of fatty foods or enormous meals all at once, the body has trouble breaking down the proteins, which putrefy in your stomach as a result. Other times, too many spicy foods, citrus fruits, caffeine, garlic, onions, peppers, fried food, alcohol, red wine and mint simply exacerbates our system.
It is not always what you eat but when you eat as well.
People who eat two or three hours before bedtime often suffer tremendous, heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. They may be up coughing all night from breathing in the acid, they may snore and feel congested, or they may have an asthmatic reaction, unable to breathe, let alone fall asleep!
Nearly three quarters of patients with heartburn acid reflux suffer nighttime effects as well.
Another common mistake people make is quite the opposite – bending, lifting and working right after dinner. All the moving around could help push food back from where it came.
Acid Reflux Caused by Medication
Believe it or not, some medications you are already on may be upsetting your stomach. Calcium channel blockers, Theophylline (Hydrophed, Marax, Bronchial, Quibron), Nitrates and Antihistamines can all relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, which is the valve that keeps food and fluids down after swallowing. If you’re taking medication for asthma, high blood pressure, seizures, angina, pain, urinary tract disorders or allergies, check with your doctor to see if acid reflux is one of the side effects.
Heartburn and Pregnancy
Are you pregnant?
Increased hormone levels naturally relax ligaments in your body at this time, including the LES. Since more pressure is shifted around your midsection, it’s natural for food or stomach acids to get pushed back up.
Underlying Causes of Heartburn and Acid Reflux
On a more serious note, heartburn and acid reflux could arise suddenly as a symptom of underlying issues.
Hiatal hernias can cause the retention of strong acids in the stomach and may block alternate paths for the acid’s exit.
Peptic ulcers (stomach lining sores) and Gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) can also be sinister culprits of your pain.
If you find reflux symptoms coming up on a daily or weekly basis, check with your doctor to be sure you’re digesting as you should be.