Heartburn is usually a temporary consequence of what and how you eat. However, it can also be symptom of a serious health problem if it happens repeatedly. In this article, we will cover the symptoms, causes, and treatment of mild to severe cases of heartburn.
What Causes Heartburn And When Should You Be Concerned?
Heartburn happens when stomach acid flows from your stomach into your esophagus and irritates the lining. After swallowing food or drinking liquids, a small muscular ring called the “lower esophageal sphincter (LES)” prevents stomach acid from entering the esophagus. If it doesn’t close tightly, the result may be acid reflux.
When heartburn becomes a normal occurrence, it can be a symptom of a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What Are The More Serious Complications of Heartburn?
Occasional bouts of heartburn are unlikely to cause serious complications. However, heartburn can cause discomfort and make sleeping or lying flat difficult. If GERD is present, some of the more severe complications include:
Esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus and a possible cause of ulcers or bleeding. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, esophagitis can be a risk factor for more severe conditions, such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal stricture.
Barrett’s esophagus is uncommon because it affects an estimated 1.6 – 6.8% of the general population. It occurs when the lining of the esophagus becomes damaged by continuous exposure to stomach acid.
Inflammation and irritation of the esophageal linen can cause the esophagus to narrow. Esophageal stricture can make swallowing more stressful and lead to complications. This ranges from choking to malnourishment from reduced food consumption.
What’s the Best Way To Treat And Relieve Heartburn?
There are multiple ways to treat heartburn, including:
Heartburn and the overproduction of stomach acid are usually responses to the foods and beverages you consume. You can reduce heartburn episodes by avoiding certain triggers like chocolate and alcohol.
For treatment and relief, there are three classes of heartburn medications you can take namely:
● Antacids: These change the nature of your stomach acid to make it less irritating
● Proton pump inhibitors: These also reduce the amount of stomach acid
● H2 blockers: These reduce the volume of stomach acid in your system
Heartburn can either be a nuisance after a meal or the first symptom of a more serious condition. For most people, avoiding foods and beverages that trigger heartburn is the best way to prevent the pain. You can also make lifestyle changes such as maintaining a moderate weight or quitting smoking.