Heartburn is the burning feeling in the chest that occurs when stomach acid travels up into the throat following a meal. If you suffer from heartburn, you may also experience a bitter taste in your mouth.
With time, heartburn can lead to the development of other symptoms. For example, the acid may cause you to cough or develop cavities.
However, if you’ve never had heartburn before or rarely had it, you may be asking, “Why all of a sudden, and what could be the cause?”
Acid travels up the esophagus when the band of tissue separating the esophagus from the throat doesn’t close properly. Normally, this band of tissue should open when you swallow and close when you’re finished eating and your stomach is creating stomach acid to break down food.
To help you get a better understanding of what might be happening, we asked our team of experts at Carolina Digestive Health Associates to explain below.
Heartburn can be caused or aggravated by small changes in the diet, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy. Here are some of the most common changes that can trigger heartburn symptoms.
Increasing your intake of caffeine and alcohol can relax the band of tissue at the bottom of your esophagus, and this can enable acid to climb up your throat from your stomach.
Not everyone reacts the same way to certain foods, but for some, acidic foods can trigger heartburn.
Garlic, onion, citrus fruits, spicy peppers, chocolate, and peppermint are all known to either cause or aggravate heartburn. If you suspect your diet could be to blame, keep a diary of what you eat to see if your symptoms are triggered by certain foods.
Weight gain, particularly on the belly, can push against the middle of your stomach and squeeze some of your stomach acid, causing it to climb up your throat.
Medications known to increase the risk of heartburn include ibuprofen, aspirin, statins, calcium channel blockers, antibiotics, and codeine.
Meanwhile, potassium and iron supplements can also cause heartburn.
Nicotine, much like caffeine and alcohol, relaxes the muscle that prevents stomach acid from going up the esophagus.
Heartburn is uncomfortable but rarely a serious health problem. However, if you leave heartburn untreated, the stomach acid can cause damage to your esophagus.
Contact us to schedule an appointment and get expert advice on managing your heartburn. Management may involve a combination of lifestyle changes and medications.