Heart burn or Acidity is a very common health problem these days. It refers to a sense of burning felt below the central bone of the chest or sternum, this usually radiates towards the mouth or throat-especially after heavy meals during weight lifting, bending over or just lying flat.
The most common cause of heart burn is a disease that is associated with back flow of stomach content called GERD(Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease). When swallowing food, it passes through a pipe like organ, the Esophagus before reaching the stomach. A muscular door, the sphincter, at the junction of the esophagus and the stomach allows food to pass through but prevents backflow. When our body is infected with GERD, there is a effortless return of the gastric contents to the Esophagus and sometimes to the mouth. These contents have a good concentration of acid in them. Due to the mucous lining the stomach has, it does not damage the stomach wall however, the Esophagus lacks this protective layer leading to the heart burn condition.
Another causes of heart burn includes heart attacks, Esophageal inflammation and lung diseases. Heart burns is often associated with nausea, upper abdominal pain, bloating or fullness of abdomen, belching and indigestion. It can also lead to the sudden filling up of the mouth with bitter or salty fluid that is known as Water brush. Many people get up at night due to acute pain of GERD.
There are dietary modification recommended to help lessen the likelihood of GERD. These guidelines include:
- Decreasing total fat intake- High fat meals and fried food tend to result in unclear and irregular bowel movement in turn leading to hear burn.
- Avoiding Large meals- Large meals increase the likelihood of increased gastric pressure.
- Decrease total calorie intake if weight loss is desirable – Since obesity may promote GERD, cut down on calorie intake.
- Avoid other known Irritants – Alcohol, mint, carbonated beverages, citrus juices and tomatoes may aggravate GERD.
- Maintain upright posture during and after eating.
- Avoid clothing that is tight in the abdominal area.
- Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime.
- Sleep on your left side. This produces less esophageal acid exposure than lying on the right.
- Chew non mint gum which will increase saliva production and decrease acidity levels in Esophagus.
- Elevate the head of your bed 4-6 inches by placing bricks under the headboard alternatively use three to four pillows if you are prone to GERD.
- Eat three to four helpings of fruits and raw vegetables.
- Antacids are often recommended for relief. These are alkaline substances that neutralize the gastric acid and lead to rise in pH of stomach.