People may call it heartburn, but the sensation of pain and discomfort in your chest and upper abdomen has to do with your stomach, not your heart. The burning sensation, sometimes accompanied by a bitter taste, occurs when stomach acid spills into your esophagus and travels all the way up into your upper chest and mouth.
Your body has a way to keep stomach acid in your stomach while allowing for the passage of food through your esophagus. It accomplishes this via a muscle called the esophageal sphincter.
However, in some people, this muscle relaxes even when food isn’t passing through, which causes stomach acid to travel through the esophagus and damage the surrounding tissues. The stomach is made to handle strong acids, but the esophagus and mouth aren’t.
Fortunately, heartburn is often influenced by what you eat, when you eat, and even certain medications. To help you relieve your symptoms, we asked our experts at Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County in Orange County, California to share the most effective ways to manage heartburn from home.
Some people only get heartburn when eating certain foods. Common food triggers include beverages containing caffeine, raw vegetables (such as onion, garlic, and cucumber), chocolate, and carbonated drinks.
Eating before bed and laying down after a meal can make it easier for your stomach acid to spill into your esophagus.
If you have excess belly fat, it may be contributing to your heartburn. The excess pressure on your stomach can squeeze your stomach, making it more likely for acid to travel upwards.
Researchers believe smoking may cause the esophageal sphincter to relax when it shouldn't. In addition, smokers produce less saliva, worsening the effects of acid reflux.
Your heartburn may not improve enough even if you avoid certain foods or change your eating schedule.
If you've tried everything, you aren't alone. One in five Americans experience chronic acid reflux, and if you’re one of the many who experience it more than twice per week, you may benefit from seeing a medical specialist.
The most common treatment for heartburn includes medications that lower the amount of acid in your stomach, which reduces the chances of stomach acid ending up in your esophagus and causing symptoms. Contact us to schedule an appointment and get quick relief for your heartburn.