Does your morning coffee cause you pain? Are you frustrated when
a night out dining with friends ends in discomfort instead of
relaxed conversation? Do you carry antacids with you every day?
Heartburn is more than just a nuisance. It can detract from
enjoying a meal, force you to change your routine and hang over
your every decision – what to eat, what to drink, when to lay
What is this monkey on your back and how can you find relief?
WHAT CAUSES HEARTBURN?
Heartburn occurs when the acid content of the stomach makes its
way back into the esophagus. A burning sensation and even a
bitter taste are experienced by heartburn sufferers.
If you are suffering more than twice a week you may have acid
reflux disease – also known as GERD. Why is this important?
Not all heartburn is caused by GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux
disease). Occasional heartburn can be caused by a variety of
factors but if you have regular episodes there are things you can
do to help.
WHAT CAN I DO?
If you have regular heartburn the first thing you should do is
stay away from regular use of antacids. Antacids can relieve the
pain of occasional heartburn, but because they are designed to
neutralize the acids in your stomach they can cause the stomach
to create MORE acid – a cycle called ‘acid rebound’. Some
medications can also cause diarrhea or constipation or even
increase the risk of food poisoning by inhibiting the growth of
Watch out for trigger foods such as caffeine, alcohol, citrus,
chocolate, minty, spicy or tomato-based foods as well as fatty or
fried foods, onions or garlic.
Being overweight or smoking also increases the risk of GERD and
lifestyle changes may help to control the symptoms.
Activities such as lying down after a meal, bending forward,
lifting heavy items or eating large meals can bring acid reflux
on. Avoiding these activities after a meal, eating smaller
portions and raising the head of your bed several inches may
Some natural products such as orange peel extract are being
researched for their abilities to curb heartburn.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Anyone. But it should be noted that pregnant women, children,
overweight individuals and smokers are all likely candidates.
Young babies have immature digestive systems. National Digestive
Diseases (NDDIC) says that most children outgrow GERD by the time
they are one year old. However, because the symptoms are painful
precautions like frequent burping and keeping the infant upright
for 30 minutes after eating can reduce the occurrence.
Older children may have to take similar precautions in diet and
activity as adults. You should always consult your doctor when
you suspect GERD to avoid future complications.
Being overweight or pregnant increases the pressure in the
abdomen. 25% of pregnant women experience heartburn at some time
during their pregnancy.
If you suspect GERD it is important to contact your doctor as
there can be harmful side effects of persistent heartburn
including scaring of the esophagus, asthma, erosion of the teeth
and even increased risk of esophageal cancer. Frequent,
persistent heartburn can also be a symptom of other serious
conditions and should be checked on by a professional.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes
only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any
disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any
health care program.