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What Causes Heartburn

Oct 8, 2007
Otherwise healthy people often wonder what the causes for heartburn are when burning sensations are felt in the chest area; especially when lying down or bending forward. This sensation starts from the breastbone and seems to travel up along the neck and throat. Often times, sufferers will complain that the contents of the stomach - food and liquids - seem to be heading back up. They may also report a sour or bitter aftertaste in the mouth during a heartburn episode.

The most likely causes for heartburn are the foods and drinks taken during a meal. Over 90% of heartburn or acid reflux sufferers can attest to this fact. Understanding which types of foods or drinks have a higher likelihood of contributing to heartburn goes a long way to either minimizing or avoiding the pain and discomfort. Controlling the intake of these foods and drinks may prevent the painful conditions from recurring in the future.

The LES' (lower esophageal sphincter) function is to keep the stomach's contents out of the esophagus. Caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea tend to relax the LES. When the LES is relaxed, it fails to keep all of the stomach's contents intact. Some of the acidic contents push back into the esophagus leading to the burning sensation of heartburn.

Apart from caffeinated drinks; alcoholic drinks and foods like chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato-based products are also main causes for heartburn. They similarly relax the LES and the resultant acid reflux sears the esophageal walls causing heartburn. In addition, fatty foods and the effects of smoking weaken the LES and the loss of pressure causes some of the acidic contents to escape into the esophagus - again causing heartburn.

Heartburn: A Medical Perspective

The LES is a critical factor in the discussion regarding the causes for heartburn. When the LES is functioning properly, the valve opens up momentarily when food and drink arrive from the esophagus above. When the LES is impaired it fails to keep all of the contents of the stomach in. This condition is referred to as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) by doctors. People who suffer from GERD may experience varying levels of discomfort. Although there are several factors that may trigger heartburn, these same factors may contribute to the excessive production of acids in the stomach. Coupled with a weak LES and subjecting the stomach to additional stresses - dressing in tight clothes or lying down right after heavy meals - may bring on heartburn. In summary, the causes of heartburn are largely dependent on one's dietary and lifestyle choices.

Many Cures For Heartburn Are Readily Available

Humans have been searching for a cure for heartburn since ancient times. This common malady has been often treated with natural remedies passed down the generations. Sensible lifestyle choices regarding food and drink selections and combinations and when heavy meals are taken can reduce the onset of heartburn. Although the occasional heartburn is discomforting and largely harmless, chronic sufferers will need to seek medical attention.

A common and natural cure for heartburn is fennel tea. The relief from heartburn by consuming fennel tea should be rather quick. Fennel is also a key ingredient in many medications developed to treat heartburn.

No single cure for heartburn is effective for all patients. Patients tend to react differently to a variety of medications - some medications work for some and not for others. Some experimentation under medical guidance might be necessary to find a cure for heartburn. While medical options are being considered, it would be sensible to make some lifestyle changes. These changes will not cure heartburn, but they will minimize their onset and intensity of heartburn.

Discovering a cure for heartburn may involve understanding the triggers that cause heartburn and making an effort to avoid those triggers. After ensuring that one is not allergic to acid reduction medicaments, taking an antacid may be a simple cure for heartburn.

What the typical American consumes today are foods laden in unhealthy fats and low in plant fiber. A diet rich in leafy vegetables and avoiding tomatoes which are highly acidic, may be a simple cure for heartburn. Dietary changes have proven to be useful in the treatment of heartburn. In conjunction with suitable medications relief from heartburn can be achieved.
About the Author
Cindy Heller is a professional writer. Visit herbal heartburn remedies to learn more about natural cure for heartburn and foods that cause heartburn.
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