What Does Heartburn Feel Like?
Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning sensation in the esophagus and chest, often located behind the sternum or breastbone.
People often describe the pain as coming in waves, starting in the chest and sometimes making its way as far up the neck as the throat and jaw. The unpleasant sensation of burning in the chest may last from a few minutes to as long as several hours, and frequently gets worse when the individual concerned bends over or lies down. It’s also possible a person with heartburn may experience a sensation of food sticking in the throat when they try to swallow.
Of course the word heartburn actually has nothing to do with the heart, because the condition is usually linked to acid reflux, or the regurgitation of gastric acid.
Many people experience heartburn from time to time, but it’s only when it becomes a regular problem, or starts to seriously affect a person’s life, that medical intervention may be necessary.
(Occasionally similar symptoms are caused by ischemic heart disease, so it’s important that if there is any doubt about the cause of the pain, it is investigated by a doctor.)
A Few Comments On Video About Heartburn
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What Is The Cause Of Heartburn?
In many cases, heartburn is the result of a weakness in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). During swallowing, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes, allowing the passage of food and liquid into the stomach. Normally this sphincter then closes again, preventing gastric acids moving back up into the esophagus. In effect, the lower esophageal sphincter is a muscular valve right above the stomach which should keep food and stomach acid where it’s meant to be – in the stomach.
However, sometimes weakness or damage can develop in the muscle tissues, and then you have an inefficient valve. This allows stomach contents and stomach acid to move up into the esophagus, a process known as “acid reflux”. The acid will burn and damage the tissues of the esophagus, which are not designed to withstand high levels of acidity.
Conditions which cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to fail in its role as a valve include weakness of the LES muscle, or an extra large opening (hiatus) in the diaphragm where the esophagus passes through into the stomach. When this happens, the stomach may move back and forth through the opening, a situation known as a hiatus or hiatal hernia. Hiatal hernias are often associated with acid reflux and the resulting heartburn because they contribute to the weakness of the LES.
Clearly, with an inefficient LES, symptoms of acid regurgitation may well be worse when a person bends over or lies down.
Repeated reflux of stomach acid is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD for short.
Tests to determine whether or not heartburn is a sign of acid reflux, a hiatal hernia (this is explained below), or GERD, may include a barium swallow, endoscopy, pH tests, esophageal motility testing, and esophageal manometry.
Treatment options for heartburn depend to some degree on what’s causing it. In most cases, however, a number of simple diet and lifestyle factors can make a huge difference to the occurrence of reflux and the resulting pain.
What you can do to help yourself:
1) Smoking is known to be a major cause of acid reflux, and it also weakens the lower esophageal sphincter.
2) Certain foods may trigger heartburn in certain individuals — the usual suspects here include fatty or spicy foods, acidic foods, coffee and alcohol. If you have symptoms of heartburn you can help yourself by identifying those foods which trigger an attack and either cutting down or avoiding them altogether.
3) Other advice which is classically given to lessen the intensity of the symptoms of heartburn including eating smaller meals more often, and not eating for at least three hours before going to bed. It may also be helpful to raise the head of the bed by a few inches so that gravity can assist in keeping stomach acid inside the stomach.
4) Over-the-counter medications include antacids, hydrogen antagonists, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Both of the latter have proved very effective at lessening the symptoms of acid regurgitation. (Photo courtesy sattra / www.freedigitalphotos.net)
Follow the links in the right hand column to find out more about the best heartburn home remedies.
Home Remedies For Heartburn
To get heartburn relief you may try a heartburn remedy or a prescription from your doctor. Of course, you may be a little worried about whether or not a “home remedy” will really work. But, if you’ve tried antacids or doctor-prescribed medication and you aren’t satisfied with the results, perhaps this is the right moment to try a natural remedy for heartburn?
Since there is so much disillusionment with the medical profession at the moment, it’s hardly surprising natural remedies are the fastest growing treatments around – but the real point is that a so-called natural remedy may well provide real relief from heartburn if you give it a chance.
Acid Reflux Remedy or Antacids?
Antacids are certainly very useful if you experience acid reflux once every couple of weeks. But most people with this problem have it every day. My mom suffered from it almost hourly. Fortunately, she found a natural remedy that worked very well indeed – and I’m going to pass on all the details of this remedy to you so you don’t suffer in the same way.
(Hint: you can see it in the right hand column of this page. It’s called Heartburn No More. This program offers a complete, totally holistic system for instant and long-lasting relief from the symptoms of heartburn.)
I think what I understood when she found this acid reflux cure was that her body, your body, all bodies, are created to effectively heal themselves when you do the right things. In the case of acid reflux and heartburn, this involves a few changes to your diet and lifestyle. If necessary, there are also some powerful heartburn remedies which can start to heal any damage to the lower esophageal sphincter.
Heartburn Relief – Do Home Remedies For Heartburn Work?
1. Start by allowing the esophageal sphincter to recover and heal. This is possible if you drink lots of neutral fluids – water, mostly – and consume only soft foods for several days. You should avoid any hard, crisp or crunchy foodstuffs, which can produce tiny tears in the tissue and promote more attacks. And, as you can imagine, cigarettes, carbonated drinks, acid foods and drinks, alcohol, and any type of spicy food is forbidden! Remember – this is only for a few days to allow damaged tissue to heal.
2. Try acid reflux remedies! A good one is natural honey, which is a great remedy for heartburn because its properties include tissue healing. Take 3 teaspoons of honey a day, at least, and see how good it is for your esophagus and LES. Take some just before bedtime and let the healing properties of honey work while you sleep!
Acid reflux remedies can offer relief from the burning pain of acid reflux disease. There are both natural home remedies for acid reflux, and acid reflux drugs prescribed by the doctor. Many people with acid reflux disease prefer not to take strong prescription drugs, but to rely on their own remedies for acid reflux instead.
A Word About Acid Reflux Remedies
Let’s begin by looking at what acid reflux actually is. Acid Reflux Disease, aka gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is actually caused by acid regurgitation from the stomach, also known as acid reflux. And acid reflux is one of the most uncomfortable minor ailments there is. The acid contents of the stomach can severely inflame the lining of the esophagus if they pass backwards towards the mouth instead of flowing onwards into the small intestine.
You may wonder why acid reflux takes place. As I already said, it’s actually caused by weakness in the valve between the esophagus and stomach. Under normal conditions, this valve, the lower esophageal sphincter, will only open to allow food to pass into the stomach; however, if either the LES or the muscles of the diaphragm, through which it passes, become weakened, then acid reflux may take place.
Symptoms Of Acid Reflux Disease
1 Heartburn or indigestion. This is one of the most common complaints of mankind. It can range from mild discomfort to intense burning inside the chest, and is sometimes mistaken for heart disease (incidentally, the same is true in reverse, which means any severe and/or prolonged case of heartburn should be checked by a doctor). Heartburn is relatively easily treated with over the counter acid reflux remedies (such as antacids) and other natural remedies for acid reflux such as cider vinegar.
2 Regurgitation of food from the stomach up into the esophagus and perhaps even into the mouth. This is also a symptom of acid reflux; it’s a rather unpleasant experience which almost everybody has experienced from time to time. Clearly, when it happens frequently, perhaps even multiple times a day, it’s time to find an effective home remedy for acid reflux.
3 Acid constantly refluxes from the stomach up into the esophagus. In this case, simple acid reflux remedies may not be adequate; the most obvious sign of this situation is rather severe pain in the chest, esophagus or stomach.
4 Occasionally men and women with gastro-esophageal reflux disease will experience difficulty in swallowing either liquid or food.
5 A sore throat or hoarseness of the voice. When the regurgitation of stomach contents becomes habitual, and acid reflux remedies prove ineffectual, the prolonged impact of stomach acid on the tissues of the larynx may be so severe that damage is caused which manifests as a sore throat or hoarseness of the voice.
6 It’s also possible that lung damage may develop if the stomach acid is refluxed into the lungs, and damage may occur to the teeth if vomiting or reflux into the mouth is a frequent event.
By now you have gathered that some cases of gastro-esophageal reflux disease are rather more serious than others, so you may be wondering whether or not acid reflux remedies can actually work as remedies for heartburn. The truth is that natural home remedies for acid reflux can be effective, but in the more serious cases medical assistance is clearly advisable, if not actually necessary.
When we talk about natural acid reflux remedies, we’re talking about simple but probably effective remedies based on a body of historical knowledge built by natural home remedy practitioners.
The simplest of these is to take preparations of compounds that have been mentioned in the context of natural home remedies for GERD, including ginger, chamomile, fennel and almonds and apples. These can serve as a very effective way of controlling stomach acidity, making apples an effective acid reflux & heartburn remedy.
Other compounds which reputedly serve as acid reflux remedies include apple cider vinegar and various herbal preparations. You can find more information on all of these things on the links provided on this page. The most common way of obtaining heartburn relief using herbal preparations is a herbal tincture called Iberogast.
I should point out at this stage that heartburn remedies don’t work in isolation. You have to take some responsibility for curing acid reflux and heartburn through lifestyle changes, some of which may be difficult to take: for example, we’re very addicted in our society to tobacco and alcohol, but both of these compounds seriously enhance gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Equally, it is known that obesity is a precipitating factor for acid reflux disease, and losing weight seems to be one of the most effective remedies for heartburn there is. It goes without saying that to make any remedies work, you have to limit your intake of acidic foods, spicy foods, in some cases oily foods, and pungent foods like chilli – all of which can exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux disease.
Other factors that seem to be helpful include wearing loose clothing, so the contents of the stomach are not forced upwards; eating several small meals a day instead of two or three large ones; and sleeping with the head of the bed raised so that the stomach contents naturally tend to settle rather than refluxing up into the esophagus.