Heartburn, by its definition, is the irritation caused in the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat and stomach, due to stomach acid. This irritation eventually leads to an uncomfortable burning sensation near the heart region, and hence the name heartburn, although it has got nothing to do with the heart.
It is a very common condition, with an estimated 60 million Americans suffering from it every month, and around 15 million facing it every day! Although it isn’t fatal or dangerous, it indicates underlying problems in the body, which if left unattended, can surely cause multiple problems over time.
The symptoms of Heartburn commonly include pain in the chest, finding it hard to swallow, having a bitter taste, hiccups, bad breath, hoarse voice, feeling bloated and uneasy. There are multiple reasons due to which it may happen.
What are the Causes of Heartburn?
To elaborate on the technicalities behind the process that results in heartburn. It happens because of a problem in a muscular valve known as the Lower Esophageal Sphincter or LES in short. This valve is located below the rib cage and helps in keeping the stomach acid right where it belongs, i.e. in the stomach, with the help of gravity.
When food passes through it, it opens up to allow passage and immediately closes once you are done eating. However, if the LES develops any problem and opens too often or doesn’t close properly, then the stomach acid overflows into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation that we refer to as heartburn.
Now coming to what causes this problem in the LES, and eventually heartburn, the following are some of the most common reasons:
Irritation by Food
Certain foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, coffee and caffeinated products such as cola, chocolate, peppermint and alcohol amongst others can irritate the LES, hence resulting in heartburn.
Side effects of some medications can cause issues with the LES, not allowing it to function accurately and leading to heartburn.
Stress causes a lot of body parts to malfunction. It affects both physical and mental health and is a big contributor to heartburn too.
Lack of Sleep
Without proper sleep, the body organs, muscles and cells do not get appropriate rest, and this too can cause many complications including heartburn.
Eating a poor diet consisting of oily, fried, processed and packaged food is also one of the common causes of heartburn.
Is Heartburn Too Common To Be Ignored?
We have already discussed how common it is for Americans to feel heartburn. To add another stat to it, it has been found that for about 20% of Americans, heartburn happens at least once every week, and is even more common in adults and pregnant women.
Considering the commonality of the problem and the fact that it usually gets resolved within a few hours, most people tend to ignore it. Only a few go for treatment, while many just try out home remedies or general medicines to resolve the issue temporarily.
But the burning question (apart from the sensation) that arises here is if it is okay to ignore the issue and let it heal on its own? Is treatment even needed, or can it be cured with just home remedies? Is recurrence of heartburn as common as we think?
The answers to all these questions lie in the fact that unlike what we tend to believe, heartburn in itself isn’t the problem, but an indicator of an underlying problem, which could be much more serious if ignored.
The underlying problems could be acidity, infections in the digestive or urinary tracts, or even GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). These, if left untreated, could develop into serious diseases and continue to degrade the quality of your life by causing everyday struggles.
How to Treat Heartburn for a Longer Period?
Heartburn can be common and frequent. It can recur now and then and can be very irritating. Although it resolves in a short period, however, what most people desire is a permanent solution.
Now sorry to break it to you, but there is no permanent solution for heartburn. But before you lose all hope, we can surely say that by taking a few steps and making a few changes, you can keep this irritating issue at bay for long. Here are a few steps which you can start doing now and get going on a journey towards better health.
Steps to Help You Cure Heartburn
Switch to an Alkaline Diet Plan
Heartburn is caused when the stomach acid reaches the esophagus and causes a burning sensation. It signifies that your stomach might be producing excessive acid, and you can incorporate some food into your diet that could help in restoring your pH balance.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
You can try and shift to an Alkaline Diet plan. The alkaline diet consists of 80% alkaline food and 20% acidic food. It can help to reduce acidity and increase alkalinity, helping to reach the desired pH level of 7.30 to 7.45 It consists of food such as green vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and a few others.
It is completely natural and hence aids in the systematic cleaning and healing of the body. It helps in removing toxins, makes the immune system strong, assists in losing weight, improves bone and muscle strength, provides energy and lowers the symptoms of GERD, including heartburn.
If you don’t have a clue about how you can start an alkaline diet plan, you can check out these 5 Hacks to start an Alkaline Diet right away. Additionally, you can follow this 7-day alkaline diet plan that can rebalance your pH levels in 7 days and fight all kinds of negative inflammation.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water forms a significant part of our bodies and is vital for our organs to be able to perform at their best. Regular water has a pH level of 7 and can help in flushing out toxins from the body. If you drink enough water in a day, then you can significantly reduce the production of excessive stomach acid and subsequently gut-related issues such as acidity, constipation, bloating and heartburn.
You can even try alkaline water, which has a pH level of 8 to 9 and can swiftly lower the amount of acid and restore the pH balance in the body. If you want to stay healthy and reduce the symptoms of gut issues including heartburn, then you should drink alkaline water at regular intervals throughout the day.
You can try the DYLN Bottle that comes in different color and size options. It has a VitaBead Diffuser at its bottom, that transforms regular water into alkaline water within minutes. This bottle is easy to maneuver around with, plus you can have access to alkaline water whenever you want.
Improve Your Lifestyle
Having a poor lifestyle wherein individuals do not eat healthy food, don’t drink water, consume alcohol or tobacco, and do not work out is considered to be a primary reason for gut-related issues. Even medicines can’t help much here, since the poor lifestyle forces the symptoms to return and issues to recur.
It is thereby extremely essential to kill the root cause of the disease by adopting a lifestyle that promotes your body health and improves your day-to-day living. Besides eating and drinking better things, you should steer clear of bad habits such as sleeping late, not exercising and consuming addictive products like alcohol and tobacco amongst others.
Stress works like a slow poison for the body. It is the root cause of most of its issues and has a role to play in most health problems and diseases. The thing that makes it even more dangerous is the fact that most people tend to ignore stress and don’t associate it with the health issues they face.
Stress is a silent yet dangerous thing that should never be ignored. Mental health is as important as physical health. Poor mental health not only ruins the quality of social and personal life but is also a major reason behind various chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension amongst others.
Studies have even established a connection between stress and gut health, and it is scientifically proven that excessive stress can cause gastrointestinal issues. Thus, you should try to take regular breaks from work, spend time with kids and loved ones, go out to relax and exercise every day to keep stress in control and avoid gut issues such as heartburn, bloating, constipation, etc.
As per recent studies, it is vital to sleep for a minimum of 7-9 hours every day for adults. It allows the body and the organs to get proper rest and function smoothly. But the modern lifestyle and work pressure barely allow people to get enough sleep, subsequently resulting in physical and mental health problems.
Recent studies have confirmed that not having enough sleep can also have a direct impact on gut health. Many patients suffering from issues such as constipation, bloating, heartburn and acidity were found to be sleeping less than 8 hours each day. This further proves the case that by having enough sleep, you can greatly improve your gut and overall health.
In case you struggle to sleep at night or have insomnia, you can check these tricks to get a better night's sleep. Additionally, you can understand the correlation between drinking more water and getting a night of good sleep, to help you get that precious 8-hours of sleep and protect you from diseases.
Having a sedentary lifestyle without any type of exercise can cause severe gut issues. Exercise helps in keeping your weight in check, burning excess fat and removing the toxins.
By exercising regularly, you can improve you cardiovascular health, decrease the risk of cancer, remove stress and tension and keep your weight in check.
Heartburn, though a seemingly minor and mild issue, can be very irritating and frustrating when it recurs now and then. Though most of us tend to ignore it since it goes away on its own or with basic home remedies. Heartburn is usually a sign of deeper problems within the gut.
It signifies an irregular pH balance and a highly acidic body and also signals towards other gastrointestinal issues, including GERD. As the cliché goes, the gut is the gateway to the body’s health. If your gut remains healthy, there are more chances of you staying healthy overall.
By following the tips and suggestions mentioned above, you will not be ignoring your heartburn and treating it correctly and sustainably. You can avoid it for long and look towards a future filled with health and happiness.