Before you start thinking something else, let me clarify what is heartburn! Heartburn has nothing to do with ‘heart’. Also known as pyrosis, heartburn is a form of indigestion. It is a painful burning sensation in the esophagus below the breastbone, caused by regurgitation of gastric acid.
Now let’s see how we have heartburn! Heartburn happens when acid from your stomach gets forced upwards into the oesophagus (gullet). This is called acid reflux. The stomach wall is coated with a layer of mucus that protects it from digestive acid. The oesophagus does not have this protection, so any acid that leaks up, irritates and damages its lining. This causes the burning pain associated with heartburn.
But why do we have heartburn? Heartburn is becoming the single most important factor behind the rise in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that nowadays largely affects the urban population, mostly due to their long working hours, erratic lifestyle, bad posture (the way you sit and stand) and bad eating habits.
Foods that may cause heartburn are:
- Alcohol (especially red wine) and Tobacco (in any form).
- Caffeinated and carbonated beverages like Coffee, tea, cola and soda.
- Chocolates and ice creams.
- Citrus fruits and juices; tomatoes and sauces.
- Spicy foods; fatty foods; dry foods like peanuts.
- Red pepper; peppermint and spearmint.
Remedies: Drink lots of water and maintain a proper diet. If heartburn occurs when lying down, raising the head with pillows or sitting up frequently may provide some relief. Doctors treat heartburn with antacids or H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors (in that order).