The term ‘Heartburn’ sounds confusing but has nothing to do with Heart. Some symptoms might appear to be similar to a heart attack or heart disease but it is an irritation of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus leading to a burning discomfort in your chest. Persistent acid reflux that happens more than twice a week is called Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). If you are dealing with frequent heartburn, consult a doctor as it can lead to long-term problems. Medication can help calm the burn, but natural home remedies may be another way to alleviate pain and get relief.
Home Remedies for Heartburn
In this article, we have focused on major natural elements that can prevent or ease heartburn. Listed below are some home remedies and lifestyle changes that one must follow to cure.
- Don’t overeat: Avoid eating large meals as it triggers heartburn. Our body has a tube referred to as the esophagus that allows food to pass from mouth to your stomach. Between the two systems lie a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. If the stomach stays distended due to the large quantities of food in it, LES won’t close properly. Thus, making it difficult for the food and stomach juices to rise back up into the esophagus.
- Follow a low-carb diet– Undigested carbs may be the reason for bacterial overgrowth, an elevated pressure (as they make you gassy & bloated) & tend to make you belch more often.
- Lose weight– Too much belly fat puts extra pressure inside the abdomen increasing chances of acid reflux.
- Avoid raw onions– Eating onions may lead to more frequent belching reason being more gas being produced due to the high amount of fermentable fiber in onions.
- Avoid spicy food– Spices may add to taste but too much spicy food might increase the risk of heartburn as they irritate the lining of the esophagus.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages– Caffeine might weaken the LES, increasing the risk of acid reflux.
- Limit the intake of carbonated beverages– Carbonated beverages or Soft drinks temporarily increase the frequency of belching which may promote acid reflux.
- Avoid too many citrus juices– Citrus fruits and juices such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and pineapples, etc. have been found to irritate the lining of the esophagus. These substances are highly acidic and can trigger heartburn.
- Avoid or Limit your Alcohol intake– Alcohol increases stomach acid, thus can worsen the condition.
- Quit smoking– Tobacco smoking interferes with the proper function of the LES as well as makes saliva less effective at neutralizing stomach acid.
- Peppermint– Some people find it relieving but it may aggravate heartburn in some cases. If you’re one of them, just avoid it.
- Chewing gum– Chewing gum increases the saliva formation & helps clear the esophagus of stomach acid.
- Baking Soda– Mix some baking soda with water & drink it to feel relieved.
- Milk– Cold milk may ease the heartburn but avoid taking too much.
- Elevate your upper body while sleeping to get rid of heartburn.
- Avoid eating large meals within two hours before going to bed as it will help reduce stomach acid.
- Changing your sleeping position – Try sleeping on your left side after taking meals as it reduces acid reflux.
- Wear loose clothes– In some cases, tight clothing compresses your stomach rising contents of your stomach into your esophagus causing heartburn.
Causes of Heartburn
The problem of heartburn is due to the improper function of a muscular valve (Lower esophageal sphincter-LES) which is a circular band of muscle located where the esophagus meets the stomach and naturally opens when you swallow, belch or vomit. Normally the gravity allows the stomach acid to remain in the stomach. When working properly, LES relaxes and opens when you swallow, and then tightens finally closing. The problem arises when it doesn’t tighten or close properly allowing the digestive juices & other contents from the stomach to rise in the esophagus thus causing a burning sensation. This improper function of LES may be due to
- Overeating-which puts too much food in the stomach
- Conditions such as obesity, pregnancy or constipation which exert too much pressure on the stomach
What Factors cause Heartburn?
Heartburn may be due to medical reasons, eating habits or even one’s lifestyle. Some reasons that lead to heartburn or make it feel worse may include
- Pregnancy: due to hormonal changes & the baby pressing against the stomach.
- Hiatal hernia: stomach bulges up in the chest.
- Use of certain medicines especially anti-inflammatory drugs & aspirin.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD)
- Drinking alcohol, citrus juices, caffeinated beverages & carbonated juices.
- Eating foods like onions, garlic, peppermint, chocolates, spicy food, tomatoes & tomato-based products
- Foods that are high in fats & oils
- Eating large food portions
- Eating shortly before bedtime
- Low levels of exercise
- Tight clothes & belt
- Stress & lack of sleep- can increase acid production & cause heartburn
Symptoms of Heartburn
- Feeling of warmth, heat or sometimes burning in chest & throat
- Indigestion like pain with a burning sensation
- Hot sour, acidic or salty-tasting fluid in the backside of your throat
- Raising pain possibly reaching the jaw
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Feeling of food stuck in the middle of the chest or the throat
- Foul acrid taste in the mouth
Heartburn can be very distressing and can prevent you from enjoying your favorite food and drinks. Thus, affecting your everyday life. Over-the-counter natural treatments and home remedies may work as an advantage. If you find any other symptoms such as crushing chest pain, it might be a symptom of heart attack. Consult a doctor immediately for the same.