Heartburn is caused by stomach acid. When the stomach acid rises it reaches your esophagus (food pipe) and leads to a burning discomfort in your upper belly or below your breastbone. It is called heartburn because the area of discomfort is around the heart and the sensation is quite similar to a heart attack or heart disease. When you feel uncomfortable around this area, it is important that you get a heartburn test done to rule out various possibilities. Heartburn is caused when either excessive acid as it is built by your digestive system or the esophageal cap doesn’t close on time, giving the acid a leeway to come up and enter the food pipe. The acid that helps you digest your food is quite strong and if it reaches other parts of your body, it can cause multiple problems. Therefore, there are multiple tests to diagnose heartburn. These tests may include liver function test, lipid profile test, a general body health test and an array of other tests depending on the diagnosis by your physician.
Occasional heartburn is quite common. It is simply a discomfort that goes away when you either take over-the-counter medications or use household herbs. It becomes a problem when
You begin to experience heartburn more than twice a week.
Medications and herbs don’t bring comfort.
It becomes difficult to swallow.
There is a persistent feeling of nausea and vomiting.
You begin to lose weight.
You have a poor appetite.
You find it difficult to eat.
There can be many other symptoms that are directly or indirectly related to heartburn.
What causes heartburn?
When you swallow food, a band of muscle (lower esophageal sphincter) relaxes to allow the food and the liquid to go down into your stomach. When the food or the liquid goes down, the muscle tightens again. When your stomach is digesting your food, lots of acid is generated. The band of muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach sometimes becomes loose but doesn’t close properly or doesn’t close in time. The acid then comes up to your food pipe and causes a burning sensation.
There are also certain foods that can trigger heartburn including citrus fruits and vegetables, spicy and oily foods, fatty and fried foods, chocolates, carbonated beverages, coffee and caffeinated beverages and large and fatty meals. Overweight and pregnant people also experience heartburn more often.
Heartburn is also called GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease).
A heartburn test shouldn’t be taken lightly because the symptoms are quite common with other serious diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what time should I take heartburn seriously?
Heartburn normally happens when you have been overeating or when you have eaten something very spicy. It also happens after alcohol or aerated beverage consumption. When it happens occasionally, you won’t find it abnormal, and you may get comfort after taking antacids or ajwain or saunf. The problem can be serious when it doesn’t go away, and the discomfort becomes a bit unbearable. The problem with heartburn is that there is little to distinguish between an impending heart attack and heartburn. Hence, if heartburn is happening frequently or if it is not going with the traditional treatments, you should definitely get yourself tested.
How does heartburn happen?
When you chew and swallow food there is an esophageal sphincter that allows the food from the food pipe to enter your stomach. When the food enters your stomach, to digest the food, the stomach releases lots of digestive acid. Sometimes when the sphincter doesn’t close on time or when it is malfunctioning, or when too much acid is being generated for it to contain, the acid reaches your food pipe. This gives you acidity or heartburn.
Can heartburn be easily cured?
In most of the cases, a heartburn is easy to cure. You can have an antacid or any other over-the-counter medicine to control heartburn. There are many food items and herbs at home that can contain heartburn. The problem arises when it doesn’t go away even after trying to treat it. Then it is the time to get a heartburn test done.
How is heartburn a habit-related problem?
There are many reasons why you may get a heartburn. There can be medical reasons, but there can also be lifestyle or habit -related reasons. For example, if you eat too much spicy food, you can suffer a heartburn. If you consume lots of coffee, then also it can give rise to heartburn. If you immediately go to sleep after having a heavy meal it can give you acidity. Hence, it is a habit related problem in most of the cases. But sometimes it can also be a medical problem. Therefore, it is very important to go for a heartburn test when the symptoms don’t go away.
Can a heartburn and heart attack be confused?
Yes, the pain induced by a heartburn can be confused as a heart attack and on the reverse side, you may not take the pain of a heart attack seriously thinking that it is merely a heartburn. If the discomfort caused around the chest area makes you uneasy and if the discomfort prolongs, it is good to immediately consult a doctor and get all the relevant tests done.