Heartburn. Almost everybody has experienced it, but there are a few things you might not know about it.
1. What is it? Heartburn doesn't actually affect your heart. It’s a burning sensation that’s located just below your breastbone, which might eventually spread to your neck or throat. The condition usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down. It can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
2. Why do you get it? When food or liquid enters your stomach, a band of muscle at the end of your esophagus usually closes off your esophagus. If this band fails to perform this action correctly, it can cause a back up of food or stomach acid in your esophagus. This can irritate your esophagus and inspire an onset of heartburn.
Extra pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, pregnancy and smoking can play a role in the development of heartburn.
3. How to prevent or stop it. Usually, the following simple steps can be taken to keep heartburn from happening to you:
• Avoid foods and drinks that frequently trigger heartburn. This includes common culprits like alcohol, coffee (regular and decaf), citrus, tomato products, and fatty or spicy foods.
• Try to drop those extra pounds if you’re overweight.
• Avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
• Avoid lying down for three hours following a meal.
There are several over-the-counter medicines than can ease the symptoms of heartburn. If you experience it twice a week or more often, you should check with your physician. Frequent heartburn might indicate more a more several medical issue and demands immediate attention.
Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; National Institutes of Health