Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Guide To Causes Of Heartburn

A digestive disorder in which stomach’s gastric acids regurgitate in esophagus, causing burning sensation and irritation in the chest is called heartburn. When it gets worse, the pain can spread till throat, neck and jaw. It is very easy to confuse the heartburn symptoms with those of heart attack, as heartburn pain originates from the region just under the breastbone but heartburn has nothing to do with the heart.

Causes of Heartburn

Lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is the protective one-way muscular valve that separates stomach from esophagus, the food pipe. When LES becomes dysfunctional or weak, the gastric acid enters esophagus, causing heartburn. The heartburn can be caused by the increased upward pressure on valve, weakening of the valve muscles, or increased production of stomach’s gastric acids.

There are many factors that slacken the valve muscles, such as smoking, chewing tobacco, certain types of foods and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The factors that increase the upward pressure on the valve causing the heartburn are eating large portions of food, pregnancy, eating oily and gas producing foods, sleeping on full stomach, wearing very tight clothes and bending down often.

Factors that increase the production of stomach’s gastric acids are oily and fatty foods, stress, spicy food and certain medications.

There are many causes of heartburn, and some of them can be easily controlled by taking healthy food and exercising regularly, but some of them need proper medical attention. Heartburn can be extremely discomforting, no matter what the cause, and it must be taken seriously.

Peptic ulcer is a lesion or sore in the lining of the duodenum or stomach, and can also be the cause of heartburn. Ulcers in duodenum are called duodenal ulcers, and ulcers in stomach are called stomach or gastric ulcers. Both together are usually known as peptic ulcers. For some people, the hiatal hernia may also be the cause of heartburn.

Chocolate contains a compound that naturally occurs in various plants such as tea, cocoa and coffee plants, and is known as theobromine. Concentrations of theobromine relax the esophageal sphincter muscle, and become the cause of heartburn.

Pregnancy can also be the cause of severe heartburn, even for women who never had it before. More than 75% of asthma patients suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Most of the people suffer from heartburn occasionally, especially after a meal. For some people, this condition occurs more frequently and becomes chronic. Mild or moderate heartburn can be treated with the help of home treatment or over the counter medications, but if the heartburn is more frequent, it is important to see the doctor.


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