Heartburn or reflux disease is experienced by up to ten percent of adults. Many people may not know that this condition can be the main symptom of esophageal reflux disease, which can cause an ulcer of this organ and even cancer.

What is heartburn?

The duration of heartburn can vary from 3 seconds to several hours. Doctors explain the case of this condition as that part of the food consumed from the stomach is transferred to the esophagus. Since the mucosa has a neutral PH level, gastric juice provokes burns on the walls of the esophagus, called heartburn. In that case, if the acid affects the mucous membrane for an indefinite time, then it causes severe damage and discomfort.

It is believed that heartburn occurs solely in those who suffer from high acidity of gastric juice. However, it can also happen with an optimal level of acidity and even in the absence of hydrochloric acid in the microflora of the stomach. Heartburn occurs where pathogenic microbes reproduce, which harm the intestines.

What causes heartburn?

Experts are sure that this discomfort may also occur in a healthy person after overeating or eating low-quality food, confectionery, black bread, spicy and pickled products, alcohol and coffee-containing drinks, as well as sour berries and fruits. Besides, smoking can also trigger heartburn. But in the above cases, heartburn passes quickly enough and not transforming into a chronic stage.

Severe heartburn occurs in diseases of the stomach like esophagitis, peptic ulcer, and chronic gastritis, as well as cholelithiasis. Heartburn occurs in operated patients.

Often, this condition occurs due to the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as a number of medications for the treatment of bronchial asthma. In women, heartburn can occur because a woman uses antidepressants, contraceptives, sedative drugs, antihistamines, drugs for asthma and antispasmodics. Stress also affects the motility of the stomach and, as a result, the aggravation of reflux disease.

In men, heartburn sometimes occurs after taking pills for treating erectile dysfunction such as Viagra or Cialis.

The most common causes of heartburn include:

  • Overeating. The stomach can only hold up to 70 oz of food. If you consumed a more significant amount, then the stomach begins to stretch up to 140 oz slowly. This process is accompanied by the fact that gastric juice begins to fall into the esophagus. If overeating has become a habit, the heartburn will be permanent.
  • Overweight. It is proven that a person with a lot of weight feels hunger systematically. All because of a stretched stomach. In this case, frequent heartburn may occur, which causes discomfort several times a week.
  • Active physical activity immediately after a meal. You should eat 4 hours before the gym in order for food to have time to absorb and not cause discomfort.

Heartburn during pregnancy

Heartburn in pregnant women appears unexpectedly and is not pathological. The most common cause of its appearance is an increase in the size of the uterus. The fact is that it expands and puts pressure on the abdominal cavity. However, internal organs such as the stomach and the bladder are most affected.

Heartburn can cause an increase in progesterone levels. Future moms should not take antibiotics, because they can only weaken the immune system. The best option would be to treat heartburn with the help of natural remedies that do not harm the future baby.

Separate cases of heartburn are not associated with reflux disease. If heartburn is repeated 2-3 times a week for several months, most likely, the person suffers from a chronic form of reflux disease.

How to treat heartburn?

Reflux disease is recognized by fluoroscopic test, by measuring the pressure in the esophagus, as well as during the examination of the tissue of the esophageal mucosa under a microscope. Following the recommendations of doctors, the patient can minimize the discomfort caused by the disease.

The duration of medical treatment depends on the degree of damage to the mucous membrane of the esophagus. The drugs that the doctor can prescribe to the patient, include antacids, alginates, proton pump inhibitors, and prokinetic agents.

Non-medical treatment complies with diet and the following recommendations:

  • sleep with the head end of the bed raised at least 6 inches;
  • wear tight clothing and tight belts;
  • avoid deep bending, do not overstrain the abdominal muscles;
  • reduce body weight when indicated;
  • do not use drugs that can provoke inflammation in the mucous membrane;
  • stop smoking;
  • do not eat before bedtime and do not lie down after eating;
  • the last meal should be no later than two hours before bedtime;
  • take 4-5 meals a day in small portions;
  • reduce the consumption of fatty and fried foods;
  • exclude the use of very cold, hot, spicy, coarse food and carbonated drinks;
  • exclude sour fruit juices, citrus juices, mint, onion, garlic, tomatoes, coffee, strong tea, chocolate, pepper, alcohol.

How to avoid heartburn?

To avoid the development of reflux disease, it is enough to adhere to general recommendations: to lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes quitting smoking, overeating, excessive alcohol consumption, and regularly undergo an examination of the digestive tract.

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