Thursday, 29 January 2015
Heartburn is caused by stomach acids backing up into the lower esophagus, the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. The medical term for heartburn is gastroesophageal ‘reflux disease. The acids produce a burning sensation and discomfort between the ribs just below the breastbone. Another symptom is sour or bitter fluid backing up into the throat or mouth. It can occur after overeating and sometimes in reaction to medications.
Heartburn if experienced now and then may not be something to worry about, however, months of constant heartburn can injure the esophageal lining.
HOW TO PREVENT HEARTBURN
· Eat smaller meals, and avoid late night snacks.
· Avoid foods that bring on heartburn. Chocolate, orange, and tomato juice, caffeine-containing foods, and fatty/fried foods are all examples of foods that may worsen heartburn.
· Avoid alcohol which irritates your stomach and esophagus and may worsen the symptoms of heartburn.
· Stop smoking . This is especially important because smoking promotes heartburn. Quitting will often relieve heartburn completely.
· If you are overweight, lose weight, even a few pounds. Being overweight can worsen heartburn.
· Avoid tight –fitting clothes, such as tight belts and waistbands.
· Raise the head of your bed six inches by placing a foam wedge or thick telephone book under the mattress.
· Don’t lie down too soon after eating. Try to stay upright for at least two to three hours after each meal. Avoid large meals and snacks before bedtime.
· Avoid aspirins or anti-inflammatory drugs which may cause heartburn.
· Take over the counter medications for heartburn. Antacids for example.
You may need to see a doctor for your heartburn if
· If pain occurs with shortness of breath or other symptoms that suggest a more serious condition.
· If stools are deep red, black or tarry. Also if there are small amounts of bright red blood in stool.
· If you suspect that a prescribed medication is causing heartburn.
· If you have difficulty swallowing, especially bread and meat.
· If heartburn persists for one to two weeks despite home treatments.