Gastric acid that flows backwards from the stomach and up into the esophagus is called heartburn, or acid indigestion. The walls of the esophageal tube, which runs from the back of the throat down into the stomach, can be damaged by stomach acid. The pain of heartburn is related to start in the upper abdominal area and spreads into the lower breastbone region. It is described most often as a severe to moderate burning sensation, which is apt when you think about it. Often, a small amount of sour tasting bile is regurgitated up into the mouth. Heartburn usually starts after a meal or when lying down, especially, for some reason, at night.
Oh My Aching Esophagus
The studies that have been completed indicate that roughly 10% of adults have experiences with heartburn weekly, while another 30% are reporting monthly bouts. Women who are pregnant are particularly susceptible to heartburn as the unborn child forces the stomach contents up and into the esophagus. The next time you have heartburn, make a note of your symptoms, and see if you agree with this assessment of burning.
What You Can Do
There are several things that you can do to avoid having to suffer through heartburn.
* Coffee, tea, aspirin, alcohol, and ibuprofen should be avoided.
* Citrus, fatty foods, tomatoes, and fruit should be avoided.
* Quit smoking.
* Focus on relaxing while you take your meals. If mealtime is a time for relaxation, stress is less likely. This should help reduce the risk of heartburn, which studies have pointed out may be related to mealtime stress.
* Do not stand while you eat. Always find a comfortable place to sit.
* Wait a few hours before lying down. Studies show that if you lie down right after a meal, you are more likely to experience heartburn.
* Elevate the head of your bed to about the height of a cinderblock, which is 6 to 8 inched higher than the foot of the bed. This allows gravity to help in prevention.
* Loose fitting clothes may help alleviate heartburn.
* Antacid medication helps but is high in sodium.
* New mediations, called H(2) blockers are supposed to decrease the amount of acid produced in the stomach. If you are taking these medications and your heartburn symptoms persist after two weeks, you will need to contact the prescribing physician.
Heartburn And Cancer
There are cases of pre-cancerous conditions developing in people who are prone to heartburn. If you are a frequent heartburn sufferer, you should make an appointment with your family physician and voice your concerns. This is especially important if you or anyone in your immediate family has ever had cancer. This is also true if you have a history of cancer in your family tree. Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common form of cancer in the world and studies are linking it directly to heartburn.
The Fake Heart Attack
There are numerous over the counter medications that are designed to help in the fight against heartburn, which has been mistaken for heart attack pain. If you have heartburn so severely that you believe that you might be suffering from a heart attack, it is definitely time for you to do something about it.