The word ‘heartburn’ has ‘heart’ in it but the condition has surprisingly nothing to do with your heart. This is a condition caused mainly due to the gastroesophageal section of the body. Heartburn is a common syndrome which is a result of excessive acid reflux inside your body. As per reports of the American College of Gastroenterology, almost 15 million people suffer due to heartburn overall in the US. Sadly, most of them do not have a clear idea of how to get rid of heartburn, but we will brief you all about it today.
What is heartburn?
The ‘esophagus’ is a tube-like organ that forms a part of your digestive system and it connects your mouth to the stomach. Rhythmic waves are created to push all the food that you consume towards your stomach and the esophagus is in-charge of this process.
There is a section where the esophagus meets the stomach. Around this section, there is an area because of which normally the food is prevented from returning back to the esophagus. There are some other flat muscles that also help to keep the chest and the abdomen separate. These also help in preventing things in the stomach to remain there.
Digestion is a process which is triggered when so many food, acids, and enzymes combine together. This, in turn, breaks down the food that is consumed into small particles which give out juices and enzymes further. There are several cells that line up the inside of the stomach that prevent the acids to react and cause inflammation.
The esophagus does not normally have so much power alone and so if at times the digestive juices and acids push back into the esophagus, inflammation is caused. The cell-lining that acts as a shield is damaged and this whole causes heartburns. This article is all about heartburns and how to get rid of heartburn so read ahead and clear all your doubts.
Quick facts about heartburn
- Heartburn is a direct result of a lack of physical exercise, obesity, and an unbalanced diet.
- The most important treatment of heartburn includes medicines such as PPI which stands for proton-pump inhibitors.
- The acid dysfunction in the stomach initially causes a mild inflammation sensation and then increases. You can feel this burn mostly in the chest and throat.
- In most of the cases, heartburn has almost no bearing on your overall health.
Major causes of heartburns
The main source of heartburns is GERD which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. As discussed before, heartburn is caused when acids used for digestion get refluxed back into the esophagus causing severe inflammation. There are some food items that are a part of our daily food routine which, in turn, stimulate excessive acids and a base of heartburn is already set-up. Some of such food and beverage items are:
- Citric fruits such as grapefruits, pineapple, oranges
- Any kind of aspirin
- Carbonated beverages and soft drinks
- Ibuprofen such as Motrin, Nuprin, Advil
- Any variety of Naproxen
Some health conditions that may result in heartburns are:
- Smoking and consuming foods containing a high amount of fat can cause adverse effects to the LES (lower esophageal sphincter). The LES stops functioning around the stomach area and as a result, allows acid refluxing to occur into the esophagus.
- A condition known as hiatal hernia is when a part of the stomach is placed in the chest area instead of being in the abdomen section. This highly affects the functioning of the LES resulting in severe heartburns.
- During pregnancy, the abdominal cavities increase pressure in the body. This leads to abnormal functioning of the LES and it predisposes to reflux.
- A condition of obesity has a similar effect on the body like in the case of pregnancy, therefore, giving rise to acid reflux.
- Primary esophageal diseases such as sarcoidosis and scleroderma can cause severe heartburn too.
Symptoms of heartburn
As discussed earlier, heartburn is a result of GERD and you need to know how to get rid of heartburn. The acids in the stomach can also push up in the esophagus and cause pain. A normal to sharp pain or spasm can be felt at the back of the breastbone. Many people confuse such pain with a symptom of a heart attack.
The pain caused due to heartburn can only remain in your lower chest or can move around to the throat. You may feel a sour aftertaste in your mouth due to the acid reflux and the sourness can also get associated with the water brash. If the sourness is caused around the larynx of the throat, a feeling of hoarseness is a common symptom. This may also result in several coughing episodes. If acid reflux stays in the body for a long period of time, the acid can damage the teeth enamel and also cause teeth decay.
The symptoms of heartburn can become worse after heavy meals. This usually happens if you lie flat on the bed with your face up or lean forward. Pain or a burning sensation due to acid reflux or heartburn can also cause temporary insomnia and sleep disorders.
How to get rid of heartburn with medicines
The best precaution you can take is to take a shot of antacid after any meal, before going to bed or whenever required. This helps to restrict too much stimulation of acid in the stomach and to line the skin of the esophagus.
Histamine is a chemical that helps in the stimulation of stomach cells in order to produce digestive acids. A medicine named Histamine H2 antagonists is commonly prescribed to block the function of this histamine. As a result of this medicine, the cells producing acids in the stomach start functioning correctly and decreases symptoms of heartburns. The following are a few examples of this medicine:
- Cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Famotidine (Pepcid)
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
Another drug class for the same condition is the PPI (Proton pump inhibitors) do the same work of restricting acid reflux in the esophagus.
- Omeprazole (Rapinex, Prilosec)
- Esomeprazole (Nexium)
- Rabeprazole (Aciphex)
- Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
- Pantoprazole (Protonix)
How to get rid of heartburn through surgery?
You might not need surgery until you are one among:
- The ones who do not respond well or find relief from medical therapy
- The ones who suffer from serious hoarseness, wheezing, or pneumonia
- Or the ones suffering from Barretts, esophagus
There is a variety of surgical approaches to treat acid reflux. The most common procedure is known as fundoplication. With the advancement of medical sciences, a number of new approaches have been discovered.
Home remedies for heartburn relief
Nothing is impossible if we know how to find solutions to problems using the simplest ingredients from our kitchen. Here are a few remedies to get rid of heartburn that you can easily try out at home:
1. Baking Soda
For this, you will just need 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a glass of water. It is an extremely simple procedure and you will just have to mix the baking soda to the glass of water, stir it well and drink it. Baking soda is chemically termed as sodium bicarbonate and it works as an antacid. It cures heartburns and indigestion due to acids. It restricts acid reflux into the esophagus and pushes it back to the stomach.
To prepare this remedy, you need 1-2 teaspoons full of apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon full of honey and a glass full of water. You need to mix the vinegar and the honey to the glass of water, stir it well and consume it. It is extremely useful to relieve from heartburns. You should have this solution every morning to prevent or completely reduce the symptoms of heartburn.
Apple cider vinegar in water is one of the best remedies for heartburn and it has been tried and tested several times over the years. People all over the world trust this remedy to prevent heartburn problems temporarily and even permanently.
3. Herbal tea
You need just 1 green tea bag or chamomile along with a cup of hot water and you are good to go. Just dip the tea bag in the hot water and let the tea steep for some time. You need to sip on this tea while it is still hot and repeat two or three more times a day.
If you are worried about how to get rid of heartburn, chamomile will work like charm for you. It is known to bring relief to gastrointestinal problems and reduce acidity. Apart from this, green tea is a proven antioxidant source and contains anti-inflammatory ingredients. The antibacterial properties along with the rest combine together in order to detoxicate your body and regulate acid levels.
4. Cold Milk
Take about 8oz of milk and drink it before going to bed or as a snack in-between heavy meals. You can repeat a glass of milk twice in a day. Just remember you should only have skimmed milk for this remedy.
Skimmed milk helps in building pressure in the ESL and reduce chances of heartburn. You just have to make sure that an over-application of this remedy may also cause adverse effects and increase acid reflux to the esophagus.
You must be having yellow mustard seeds in your kitchen. For this remedy, you will need nothing but a teaspoon full of yellow mustard seeds. You need to gulp all of the seeds down with a cup of water.
If this sounds very difficult, you can try another remedy as well. Take a glass of buttermilk and add about 2 teaspoons full of yellow mustard powder. Stir it properly and drink it. Don’t try this every day, but only when you sense a heartburn. This works simply because mustard contains alkaline ingredients and regulates excessive acid stimulation.
For this, you need organic, raw honey and a glass full of lukewarm water. Mix a teaspoon of the honey into the glass of water and stir well. You should drink this ideally before mealtime. 2-3 glasses of this water will not harm at all.
Honey and warm water together help repair the covering of the esophagus which has already been damaged by now. The anti-inflammatory properties in honey reduce pain in the chest and the throat. The potassium content restores acid balance in your stomach.
This is the easiest in the list as cold water is more than easily available at every home. For heartburn, just gulp down a glass full of cold water and then take a stroll. This should be the first-aid for heartburn.
Coldwater remedy helps because it can instantly reduce the burning sensation in your chest and throat. It also regulates all fluids in the body and eradicates heartburn symptoms. However, very chilled water is not preferable.
You need a handful of roasted or raw almonds for this remedy. Just pop-in 5-6 almonds after every meal like a snack. You can even add this to your daily food-routine for best results. Almonds are also said to be highly alkaline in nature and this helps to neutralize all the juices in the stomach. As a result, you can get relief from frustrating and painful heartburns. Make sure you do not consume too many almonds in a day.
9. Apple or Banana
You need nothing but these fruits every day to keep heartburn at bay. You can eat either of these two fruits in a day. Note that bananas are suitable for a morning diet whereas apples can be eaten at any time of the day. These are healthy fruits and can be a part of your regular diet.
Bananas are low in acidity content and therefore act as antacids naturally. They are also anti-bacterial and hence prevents acid reflux. On the other hand, apples contain healthy acids and regulate stomach juices to eradicate heartburns.
Basic lifestyle changes to prevent heartburn
Apart from the home remedies and everything else, try to make a few common lifestyle changes to stay healthier such as:
- Take antacids regularly
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid overeating and eat slow
- Do not go to bed right after a meal
This article gives a complete overview of heartburns and how you can avoid them. Reading this will also help you to understand how it affects you and what side-effects may occur to you. You now know how to get rid of heartburn and what you can immediately do to cure yourself. Make sure you visit a doctor if the condition is serious.