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The Basics of Heartburn: What You Need to Know in a Nutshell

By Sue Kruger

Experiencing a burning pain in your chest or tasting acid? It is very possibly heartburn.

Heartburn is a symptom of GERDor gastroesophageal reflux disease. The two main symptoms are a burning feeling in the chest and an acid taste in the mouth. If you are familiar with heartburn, you know how unwelcome and uncomfortable it can be.

How does heartburn happen?

Heartburn happens when the contents of the stomach are pushed back up into the oesophagus. This is called acid reflux. Acid reflux is caused when the muscle that closes off the stomach from the oesophagus is weakened or doesn’t work as it should. This can happen because of eating certain foods, during pregnancy, in people that are overweight, and as a result of a medical condition called GERD.

Is heartburn a serious problem?

Not usually. Heartburn is generally not serious and can be easily treated by antacids and other over-the-counter medications. However, the symptoms can sometimes indicate a heart attack and be mistaken for heartburn. If the heartburn symptoms are accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, or pain in the left arm, you need to get medical treatment immediately as it may be a heart attack. Normal heartburn is nothing to worry about if it only happens once in a while. According to doctors, heartburn can be a problem when it happens more than once a week.

What causes heartburn?

A few things can causeheartburn, but the causes are specific to individual people. Possible causes of heartburn include:

· Eating foodslike chocolate, spicy foods, fatty foods, citrus and drinking alcohol or fizzy drinks.

· Smoking.

· Women who are pregnant are more likely to experience heartburn.

· People who are overweight also have an increased chance of experiencing heartburn.

· Lying down after eating.

· Eating a big meal before going to bed.

How do you treat or prevent heartburn?

Heartburn can easily and efficiently be treatedby over-the-counter antacids and medications like Flux-O, Maalox, Gaviscon, Rennie, etc. Adjusting your dietand lifestyle to avoid foods that you know cause heartburn will also help with prevention. If you experience heartburn very often or experience symptoms that are not associated with heartburn, you need to see your doctor.

Although heartburn is unpleasant, in most cases it is not serious and easily treated. Pay attention to when you experience heartburn and adjust your food choices and lifestyle accordingly. This could help you get rid of that unwelcome visitor and fully enjoy your meals again.

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