Heartburn – Causes and Symptoms of Heartburn

Heartburn is an uncomfortable but common feeling of warmth and burning in the chest. It is a digestive problem and occurs when gastric acids comes in contact with the esophageal lining, causing irritation. Heartburns can be a symptom of a serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if it occurs continuously. They may lead to more serious conditions such as ulcers and limit the daily activities.

On an average, heartburns occur in 30% of people in which 10% of them experience everyday. It could be a symptom in 25% of pregnant women.

Causes of Heartburn

Heartburn occurs when gastric acids enter into the food pipe, the esophagus. A circular band of muscle is present around the base of the esophagus called esophageal sphincter. When food is swallowed, it opens to allow the food and water to pass through it into the stomach. Later it closes.

If the esophageal sphincter weakens and behaves abnormally, stomach acids flow back into the esophagus and cause heartburn. The stomach acids back flow is worse when the person is bending or lying down.

Listed below are the foods and drinks that increase the risk of heartburns:

  • Vinegar
  • Tomato sauce
  • Soft drinks
  • Peppermints
  • Citrus juices
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Fried food
  • Fatty food
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Black pepper
  • Alcohol

Symptoms of Heartburn
The signs and symptoms of heartburn include:

  • A burning feeling in the chest area after eating that may last for several minutes to several hours
  • Chest pain when eating, bending over and lying down
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Feeling difficulty in swallowing food
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic cough

When to seek a medical professional
Consult a medical professional immediately if you experience chest pain, combined with symptoms such as arm pain, jaw pain or difficulty in breathing. Even make an immediate appointment if:

  • You face difficulty in swallowing
  • Symptoms persist in-spite of using over-the-counter medications
  • Heartburn occurs more than twice a week

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