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What is heartburn?

What is heartburn? How do I get rid of it? How do I prevent it?

4655 day(s) ago

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Heartburn is a burning sensation in the esophagus, the tube that runs between your mouth and your stomach. It is caused by acid reflux: acid in your stomach is spilling out past the esophageal sphincter into the esophagus, burning away the tissue. Severe heartburn is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and can result in scarring and eventually esophageal cancer.

Heartburn is mostly physical in nature: for one reason or another, the acid is being pushed into the esophagus. This can be caused by large meals or foods that are acidic or spicy, which increase acid production. Eating smaller, milder meals can reduce the likelihood of heartburn. Lying flat on a bed can let some acid seep past the esophageal sphincter. This can be prevented by lying at a slight incline.

More causes for heartburn are covered in this video;

There are four ways of treating heartburn, two of which act directly on the acid, and two which act on the body to reduce acid:

Antacids are the most common treatment for heartburn. These are chemically base materials that reduce the strength of stomach acid.

Alginates form a protective film on the esophagus, preventing tissue damage. These are typically tablets that you chew up, creating a paste that is then swallowed. They work best when taken shortly before eating, but can be effective afterwards, too.

An H2 antagonist reduces the amount of acid released into the stomach. These were the main treatment for GERD, but have been replaced by proton pump inhibitors, which reduce stomach acid production. A few of these are now available over-the-counter, but they have to be taken in advance to work.

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