Heartburn: Causes and How to Prevent It

Thursday 5 January 2012

Heartburn is a burning sensation that is felt in the chest and throat, which occurs when the acid from our stomach travels back into the esophagus. The person suffering from heartburn may also experience a sour and acidic taste in the mouth.

If you suffer from heartburn / acid reflux more than 2 times a week, this is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Causes of Acid Reflux

1) Many pregnant women experience acid reflux symptoms due to some of these reasons:-
  • In their 3rd trimester of pregnancy, due to increased levels of hormones that "soften" the ligaments that normally keep the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tight thereby causing the acid to flow up.
  • The larger uterus during pregnancy causes the organs in the abdomen to be pushed up against the diaphragm, resulting in acid reflux, as the physical integrity of the LES is affected.
  • The extra weight gained during pregnancy around the waist often presses on the abdomen and increases the pressure inside. This pressure may force food up into the esophagus.
2) Hiatus hernia condition, which pushes part of the stomach up through the diaphragmatic hiatus.

3) People who overeat, or consume spicy and oily food, as well as acidic food. Food that may aggravate acid reflux symptoms include peppermint, chocolate, tomatoes, onions, fatty foods, coffee, tea and citrus fruit juices.

4) People who consume alcohol in large amounts.

5) People who consume certain medications.

How to Prevent Heartburn
  • Eat smaller but more frequent meals.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Wear loose and less restrictive clothes.
  • Elevate the head of your bed and sleep on your left side.
  • Reduce intake of alcohol.
  • Stop smoking.
(Source: Tummy Troubles by Prof Madya Dr Sheikh Anwar Abdullah, StarFit4Life, 4 December 2011)

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