Heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the throat and behind the sternum, resulting from the reflux of the acidic contents of the stomach into the esophagus and irritation of its mucous membrane.
Heartburn most often occurs with gastritis, increased acidity of gastric juice, gastric ulcer, diaphragmatic hernia of the esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease, esophageal dyskinesia, insufficiency of the lower esophageal sphincter.
Causes of heartburn
The esophagus is separated from the stomach by a valve – a muscular ring that, when compressed, blocks the entrance to the stomach. This ring protects the mucosa of the lower third of the esophagus from the effects of gastric acid. If for some reason the valve does not perform its function sufficiently, then with an increase in pressure in the stomach, the contents are thrown into the esophagus.
The following reasons can lead to the development of heartburn:
- Binge eating
- Smoking, drinking alcohol
- Foods that lead to increased acid formation: chocolate, coffee, seasonings and spices, black bread, fatty foods, and more.
- Hormonal changes that affect the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter: increased progesterone during pregnancy, taking OK.
- Taking certain medications: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nitrates.
- Disturbance of motility (dyskinesia) of the esophagus and insufficiency of the sphincter as a result of various diseases (scleroderma, diabetes mellitus, inflammatory diseases of the esophagus, etc.)
- Increased acidity of the stomach
The position of the body can provoke the occurrence of heartburn, for example, in an inclined position, the reflux into the esophagus increases, especially immediately after eating.
Prevention and treatment:
To prevent heartburn, you should get rid of excess weight and reduce the use of foods that cause heartburn: fatty and fried, sour, coffee and chocolate, bakery products, foods that lead to increased gas formation in the intestines, and so on.
It is advisable to give up alcohol and smoking completely.
Food should be taken in small portions, fractionally, 5-6 times a day. Do not lie down or bend over for half an hour after eating.
Physical activity in the first hours after eating is also contraindicated.
Try to avoid large meals and sleep with the head of the bed raised. For example, you can put pads a few centimeters thick under the legs of the bed.
Treatment of heartburn should be carried out only after consulting a doctor. Recipes known to all – milk or soda inside – do not cure heartburn, but only bring temporary relief. After taking alkaline solutions in the stomach, the production of hydrochloric acid reflexively increases, which leads to the “rebound” effect: heartburn intensifies after a while.
As a rule, after the appointment of drugs from the groups of proton inhibitors, H1 receptor blockers or prokinetics, heartburn quickly resolves. However, these drugs have their own side effects and should only be prescribed by a doctor. Heartburn is not usually an isolated symptom, but only a signal that there is a disorder in the stomach. If the cause is not found in time, serious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can develop.
In difficult cases, for the treatment of heartburn resort to surgical correction.