How to react when heartburn strikes you.
For many, heartburn is what happens after we eat one too many fruit roll-ups for an entire meat lover’s pizza. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, 44% of Americans suffer from monthly heartburn, and 7% have it daily. Heartburn is generally caused by the regurgitation of gastric acid. The condition has nothing to do with the cardiovascular system; rather it’s a pain felt in the chest due to inflammation of the esophagus. At the junction between the stomach and esophagus is the lower esophageal sphincter, which acts as a valve that keeps food and stomach acid from rising back through the esophagus. When stomach acids rise through the esophagus, they cause inflammation, a “burning” sensation, and pressure across the chest. Other common symptoms include difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, and a nasty acid fluid accumulation at the back of the throat.
The key to conquering heartburn is identifying what foods are most irritable to your stomach (keep a food journal and record your symptoms). From there, it’s about crafting a diet that can reduce stomach acids before acid reflux starts to deteriorate the esophagus.
Helpful tip: Six is the number of inches you can raise the head of your bed (by placing a riser under the legs, not adding extra pillows) to effectively reduce heartburn.
Common Triggers of Heartburn:
FATTY MEALS – High fat foods rest in your stomach for a longer period of time and irritate the digestive system, especially late at night. Just because the drive-through window is open late, doesn’t mean it’s a good option.
ALCOHOL – A study published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association showed that drinking just 4 ounces of alcohol may increase heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.
STRESS – A National Heartburn study showed that 58% of frequent heartburn sufferers say stress increases their heartburn and 52% say work related stress makes things worse.
DIET – Avoid acidic produce such as oranges (and orange juice) and tomatoes; and skip caffeinated products like coffee, tea, and soda to help keep you relatively heartburn free.
ANTACIDS – Products like Rolaids and Tums typically provide instant relief from heartburn by using calcium to combat the burn.
CHEWING GUM – Stimulating the production of saliva can help wash away excess acid. Make sure the gum you choose is sugar free since sugared gum can also exacerbate heartburn.
Marco and I have found Aloe Vera Juice to be very effective in combatting heartburn.
Feels like heartburn, but it’s not!
Joseph Raduazzo, M.D., identifies conditions commonly misdiagnosed as heartburn.
ANGINA is the warning symptom before a heart attack. This pain is usually worse with exertion and can be accompanied by shortness of breath. This is one of the big, bad diagnoses you don’t want to overlook.
BLOOD CLOT IN THE LUNGS; called a pulmonary embolism, this can be fatal as well. The blood clot usually comes from a vein in the leg and traces to the lungs. The only way to rule this out is a CT scan. This is the other big, bad diagnosis.
SPASM OF THE ESOPHAGUS, also known as a Nutcracker Esophagus, this can be very painful and feels like squeezing or a cramp in your chest. Difficulty swallowing is another symptom. This is not dangerous, however.
Source: Matt Caputo