How to Ease a Familiar Pain Naturally
It can make your chest feel like it’s on fire as your stomach heaves and churns. Even the word heartburn conjures up visions of burning pain inside a smoldering torso. But contrary to its descriptive name, heartburn has little to do with the heart, and everything to do with the digestive system. That sour, metallic taste that appears in your mouth right after eating indicates indigestion produced by stomach acid flowing in the wrong direction.
Because heartburn leaves you with the taste of gastric acid in your mouth, and even a small amount of this digestive fluid in the esophagus can cause discomfort, it’s a common misconception that heartburn is caused by too much stomach acid.
Antacids & Acid-lowering Drugs
Medical treatment relies on the use of acid-lowering drugs and antacids to neutralize the problem. Treatments are generally designed for temporary symptomatic relief, for although the feeling of heartburn is not present when taking these drugs, stomach contents still wash into the esophagus and can cause problems, even if the individual cannot feel it.
Despite the popularity of antacids and other over-the-counter aids designed to limit stomach acid, experts believe that the majority of digestive problems linked to heartburn actually stem from too little of one type of acid in the stomach: hydrochloric acid. As a result, many suggest taking betaine hydrochloric acid supplements to help prevent heartburn.
Factors that may make you more prone to heartburn:
When extra body weight presses on the diaphragm and stomach, it can squeeze the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), creating an opening that permits stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus. Eating large quantities of food or high-fat foods can also exert pressure, pushing stomach acid back up through the sphincter.
A hiatal hernia occurs when a portion of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity through the diaphragm. This can compromise and weaken the LES muscle, allowing stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
The added weight of pregnancy exerts increased pressure on the stomach and also results in higher levels of progesterone. The hormonal changes of pregnancy may keep the LES from contracting sufficiently, allowing stomach acid to back up into the esophagus.
Three out of every four people with asthma suffer persistent heartburn. Unfortunately, not only can an asthma attack bring on heartburn, but heartburn problems may exacerbate asthmatic breathing problems. In addition, asthma medications may loosen the LES and allow stomach acid to back up.
Diabetes can prolong the time it takes the stomach to empty, creating a condition called gastroparesis. When the stomach stays full for a long time, it increases the chances of heartburn.
Ulcers can interfere with stomach emptying by hampering the function of the valve between the stomach and small intestine. When the stomach can’t empty efficiently, stomach acid accumulates and can back up into the esophagus.
Conditions such as scleroderma that cause muscular swelling interfere with stomach function.
Onions, spicy foods, fruit juices, alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee and colas may also make you more prone to heartburn.
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