Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is just one of the common symptoms of acid reflux disease. This is a condition that occurs because the lower esophageal sphincter – a band of muscular or hormonal opening at the bottom of the stomach – is weakened. Sometimes, this occurs because of certain foods that are hard to digest. Other times it’s a result of stomach bacteria that have become trapped, and although it’s not necessary to understand the technical details of what causes acid reflux, it’s important to understand what you can do to stop it from happening in the first place.
One of the best ways to treat heartburn is to make changes in your diet. First of all, you should eat smaller meals more often, as this keeps your stomach fresh. In addition, you should cut out as many types of foods that contribute to acid reflux as possible. Your diet should be high in low-fat foods, like vegetables and fruits. If you drink coffee or tea, try to eliminate these as much as possible; caffeine makes your muscles work harder, and this contributes to a weakened esophageal lining.
Another way to deal with heartburn is to get exercise. When your stomach is working harder, it’s the same as pumping air in a car – the pressure increases, making it difficult for food to move through the stomach. Try running, or walking briskly for ten minutes every couple of hours. Exercise also helps keep your stomach fresh by forcing your stomach to release digestive juices, which help to rinse out the lining.
Some people also find that drinking coffee or tea triggers their bouts of heartburn. One of the possible reasons is that caffeine triggers a stimulant in the body, allowing it to work faster than it should. If you drink caffeinated beverages two to three times a day, the stimulant can overwork the stomach muscle, which allows gastric acid to leak back up into your esophagus. Drinking a beverage with no caffeine, like decaf, can allow the caffeine to work more gradually so that the effects don’t linger.
Some people also experience heartburn symptoms as a result of regurgitation, which occurs when food comes back up after you’ve pushed it down. This can happen when you lie down or bend over. Sometimes it may be difficult to determine what causes acid reflux symptoms because the symptoms can be similar to other gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.
To treat heartburn, most people need to get rid of certain foods from their diet, such as chocolate milk, fried-foods, and peppermint. Other treatments, including herbal remedies and antacids, can help reduce symptoms. It’s important to know what causes acid reflux in order to avoid it. Changing lifestyle habits can often make GERD easier to live with.