Did you ever wake up with a feeling of burning in your chest? An acidic feeling as though someone had shoved a bottle of acid into your mouth, which made you feel sick to the core? Did you feel like puking? You probably thought it was acdity and gulped down an antacid. But did the self-diagnosis help? Well, let me tell you, it is probably Heartburn, also known as GERD, and It isn’t something to ignore. Read more and understand what to do if you are stuck in such a situation and need help immediately
But before we go ahead, let’s first talk about the causes and symptoms of heartburn for a better understanding. We then shall go on to tell you what home remedies can help and when to seek the help of a doctor too. Please read on and be well-informed for the same.
What is Heartburn?
When the acids from the stomach along with the juices of the digestive tract are forced up into the esophagus instead of moving straight to the stomach, inflammation is caused and the unprotected lining of the esophagus is damaged.
This would be a symptom of gastro esophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or heartburn.
Now that you are aware of what a heartburn is and how it occurs, let me take you to the causes of the same.
Causes of Heartburn or GERD
1. Spicy Foods
Spice and oily foods should be avoided at all costs. According to medical experts,, chances are that the oespohagus lining and the acids in the stomach react to the oils and spices, creating more discomfort- hence it is best to abstain from spicy foods or to cut down drastically on them.
2. Over the Counter Medications
The chemical composition of OTC medications can react with the acids in the stomach and cause discomfort. Hence, take no chances.
3. Excessive Alcohol Consumption
STOP DRINKING ALCOHOL when you have GERD, say medical experts. Not even a glass of beer or whisky or wine should be consumed. This is because, alcohol when consumed in large amounts can lead to the damaging of the mucus lining in the oesophagal system, thereby causing more discomfort and pains.
4. Excessive Coffee Consumption
Most studies and researches say coffee consumption is not advisable since caffeine is a sort of a trigger that creates more GERD symptoms and causes, say medical experts. Studies are still on to elucidate the same, however, only a gastroenterologist would be best able to tell you how much coffee a day can one have when undergoing GERD treatment.
5. Excessive Aerated Drinks Consumptions
Recent medical studies explain why GERD and aerated drinks shouldn’t meet- for one, it is the carbonation in these beverages that cause stomach distention. The increased distention is what makes GERD increase, and forces the acids back into the oesophagus. Secondly, aerated drinks are acidic by nature, which is why a can a day can make ten times more acid than what a bottle of sparkling water would. Hence, NO AERATED DRINKS please!
6. Juices from Orange, Pineapple and Grapefruit in Excess
While our stomachs are made to withstand acids and alkalines in equal measure, when you have GERD, the acidic state of the stomach is super high. This is why, consuming fruit juices such as grapefruit, pineapple, oranges, tangerine – juices that are highly acidic by nature provokes GERD all the more.
7. Acidic Foods Such as Tomatoes
Another trigger say the world of medical science are tomatoes, and they can cause plenty of harm to the oesophagus and the stomach when GERD strikes. This is because there are two types of acids in tomatoes, namely citrus and malic acid, which are known to be heartburn triggers. The gastric acid in the stomach helps break down the food- imagine malic and citric acid mixing with the gastric acids- an abundance of acids that you don’t want. This is why, tomatoes should be avoided at all costs to prevent provocation of GERD.
8. Excessive Consumption of Chocolate
When you ingest chocolate or forms of it, what happens to the stomach and the oesophagus is that the ingestion causes serotonin to rise.
This surge is not good for the oesophegal muscle – the sphincter- it relaxes and thus makes more acid in the stomach and the gastric zone to rise.
Moreover, the presence of theobromine and caffeine in chocolates are triggers for acid reflux, and cocoa is acidic by nature.
9. Excessive Smoking
We cannot emphasize on this enough- STOP SMOKING- it is very injurious to health, and worse still if you have GERD. When it comes to nicotine and GERD- nicotine is a member of the tobacco family, and it helps relax the lower muscle of the oesophagus. This is the muscle that keeps the acids in your stomach; where it should ideally be. However, with every puff you take, the muscles further relax and motivate the acids to rise above the lower levels. And this is what further aggravates GERD!
10. Excessive Consumption of High Fat Foods
Scientific research and studies have shown that high fat foods have a very bad effect on GERD symptoms. High fat foods just like acidic foods and chocolates would make the lower oesophagal muscle go lower than where it should ideally be. When this happens, the acids flow upwards and thus you would feel the burning sensation, leading to acid refluxes and GERD overall!
Pregnancy is a time when women suffer major symptoms of GERD and are victims to heartburns. At some point, every expectant mother would go through this, which is normal and don’t cause any major complications. In very rare cases would there be an inflammation of the oesophagus. However, in majority of the cases seen, GERD improves after the baby is delivered.
There is a reason why your body weight should be maintained, and this is because obesity contributes to GERD situations. The excess belly fat, say medical experts, adds more pressure to the stomach. In some cases, hiatal hernia too develops, which is why acids backflow and cause heartburn. Studies also show that most obese people sufer from hormonal changes which also can lead to GERD like symptoms in the long run.
While we now are better informed of the various causes that can lead to acid refluxes and heartburns, let’s take a look at the symptoms to be aware off for a better understanding, shall we?
Symptoms of Heartburn
Now that we have an understanding of what is heartburn or GERD, let us take a look the symptoms of the same, shall we?
There are one too many symptoms that you can experience.
1. Trouble Swallowing
People suffering from heartburn cannot swallow easily.
- The lower oesophagus has a thin lining which when provoked can make it tough for us to function in the act of swallowing anything.
- GERD damages the tissues right from the stomach to this zone, and the acids are sent upwards.
- This can lead to scarring and spasm, because the oesophagus lowers itself more. Hence the burning sensation and the discomfort associated and experienced.
2. Chronic Coughing
Some have reported cases of chronic coughs while undergoing GERD symptoms, and this is common. Most experts from the world of medical reveal that chronic coughs happen when there is severe acid relfuxes happening and when the non-acidic stomach contents move upwards. This attacks the throat and hence coughing to a large extent is experienced with major burning sensations.
3. Sore Throat Symptoms
Sore throat and GERD are interlinked.
Yes, you read that right!!!
Chronic sore throats can happen when acid refluxes are misdiagnosed as tonsillitis. Research has shown that gastric acids affect the vocal cords, resulting in major inflammations of the throat.
Clearing your throat frequently, hoarse voice issues, coughing a lot and feeling of something stuck in the throat, when there is actually nothing. All of these symptoms are common and are refered to as what medical science calls “laryngeal pharyngeal reflux (LPR)”.
4. Regurgitation of Foods
When you have GERD symptoms, the foods you eat or consume are regurgitated now and then because of the acids touching the throat. This can be very annoying and when they mix with the acids found in the stomach and the oesophagal system, they can cause mild to severe acid refluxes and heartburn issues too.
Reason: This is because the lower muscle of the oesophagus relaxes and doesn’t have the ability to stop the acids from flowing upwards; hence the regurgitation quite unpleasant and smelly to bear with.
Now that we have an overview of what GERD or heartburn is, the causes and symptoms too, we need remedies that can be used at home to prevent the same.
Disclaimer: Please note, this is a post on GERD for informational purposes only. Kindly get in touch with your doctor for real time advise and help, and other remedies too. His words would take precedence over what is written here.
How to get rid of heartburn
Here below are listed the remedies on how to get rid of heartburn at home. Take a look and apply.
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV or apple cider vinegar for long has been used to treat heartburn and GERD. It helps with relief only, say medical experts.
How it works: What ACV does is that it helps balance the levels of pH in the stomach, and this is done by acid neutralization.
Directions: A cap of ACV with a glass of water should be drunk once a day after a meal. This would help with proper digestion and neutralization of acids.
The power of lemon juice cannot be undermined. Thanks to the vitamins in it, lemon juice can help bring relief from heartburns too.
How it works: The juice of a lemon is alkaline forming, say medical experts and even though they taste tangy and sour, they are safe to consume. Lemons help neutralize the enzymes and acids in the stomach.
Directions: A tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice should be had concentrated before a meal once a day. This helps combat the reflux and acidity.
Most would want to know if baking soda can end the reflux for good or not, or is it just a remedy to bring relief! The best answer will come from your doctor, since baking soda works individually from one person to the next.
How it works: Antacids have always been used to combat heartburn, and baking soda is a natural antacid to use. Baking soda helps with acid neutralization in the stomach and brings the much needed temporary relief you need from the irritating heartburns.
Directions: A teaspoon of the soda in a glass of water should be drunk before meals.
Aloe Vera Juice
The juice of aloe vera isn’t only topically applied for gorgeous skin, but can be consumed for healthy internal organ maintenance; protection from heartburns too.
How it works: Most would suggest aloe vera juice to combat heartburns, which is a tried and tested way to bring in relief.
Directions: Three ounces of the juice with a glass of water to mix in should be consumed half an hour before your meals. The symptoms would be prevented.
If you have chewing gum around, it can help combat the annoying heartburn issues.
How it works: By chewing gum, saliva production is stimulated and more is produced. When the same flows into the stomach, the acids meet the saliva and neutralization happens. And in addition to that, you are able to swallow better, and the annoying acid contents from the oesophagus is removed soon.
Directions: Start chewing the gum as soon as you feel the symptoms rising.
Ginger Root Tea
Ginger root tea is a natural herbalicious tea that helps with defeating and combating inflammation, GERD included.
How to: What you need to do is to peel and chop an inch of the root and then boil it in a cup of water for a minute or two. Remove and strain the water, and add a teaspoon of honey. This is a concoction that can help you very well to steer clear away from the symptoms of GERD.
Directions: Drink this twice everyday, and before your meals to help beat GERD.
Sarson as it is known in India, mustard can help bring immense relief from GERD symptoms too.
How it works: Once the mustard enters the stomach, it neutralizes the acids and brings down the spike in pH levels too. The stomach thus doesn’t produce more acids than needed at the moment.
Directions: Since it is one of the least acidic foods around, a teaspoon of mustard seeds should be consumed with little water.
Organic almonds can help you find relief from heartburn, and if you have them around, chew on them.
How it works: The nuts are tasty for sure and they enter the stomach to neutralize the acids. They can help prevent heartburn if you have them directly after a meal.
Directions: Just three pieces would do good and prevent the pesky heartburn from happening.
A Cup Of Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is good for the body, the mind and the stomach too, which is why a cup of chamomile tea is a must have when you face heartburn issues.
How to: Add a teaspoon of honey or jaggery to the chamomile tea and drink it after a heavy meal or a spicy meal. You wouldn’t have to worry about heartburns thereafter.
Directions: Ensure not to have it too hot and don’t have it too sweet with refined sugars.
Note: Avoid the intake of chamomile tea if you’re taking anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin.
Slipper elm is an agent that comes in the form of lozenge, powder, capsules and more.
How to: One tablespoon of the powder, thrice a day is a must to take with a glass of water, or with tea.
Tip: Remember, just a teaspoon; else it would be too thick to act fast and the problems would double, which none of us ever want to deal with.
Eat a banana or an Apple
Apples and bananas for a very long time have been consumed to deal with acid refluxes and GERD. Both have enough of potential vitamins, minerals and properties to bring in the much relief needed.
Directions: Consume them as a whole fruit, as a dessert or mashed into a pulp, or have it as a snack sans spices and salt. One apple or a banana in the morning with your breakfast or at night before your dinner can be had. These two fruits are nature’s best antacids!
Tip: Remember, in a bid to find relief from GERD, do not over consume the fruits- it could lead to extra pressure on the stomach and the oesophagus, and cause more acidity, since these fruits too have their own acids.
One of the best natural home remedies most homemakers swear by when treating symptoms of GERD would be to use Betaine HCL.
Directions: First speak to your doctor and get checked for GERD symptoms. The doctor would then tell you how many capsules of betaine HCL you can take.
TIP: Most doctors would prescribe this medication on a trial basis, and then continue If need be. Do not be your own doctor!
So here were the symptoms to be very wary about and how to use home remedies that can bring in plenty of relief too.
However, the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ can be best applied here, which is why we would want to share pointers on how to prevent heartburn!
How to Prevent from HeartBurn
It is no rocket science to understand how to deal and combat GERD or heartburns, which is why we are giving out some of the most used tips around the world by experts.
1. Steer Clear Of Late-Night Meals Or Big Meals:
- Ensure that you eat smaller meals, at least five small meals a day. This is because, the larger the meal, the more the pressure on the LES. This increases the chance of acid reflux in the oesophagus.
- Also, avoid late night meals.
- Eat three hours before you sleep, because if you eat and lie down instantly, chances are that the stomach contents would press against the LES once again, and this would make the refluxes happen.
2. Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn: You should also be sure not to eat too much of acid stimulating foods and not to drink acidic juices or beverages too.
3. Pay heed to your sleeping posture: Head elevation when you sleep is a must, since it doesn’t press the stomach contents and force the LES to be caught. If the head is higher at elevation levels from that of the stomach, the gravity formed will help bring down the pressure. Two pillows can help, or place two books under your pillow and sleep.
4. Watch your weight– we cannot emphasize enough on the same. Obesity as many medical experts opine brings in a lot of diseases and disorders in the body; acid refluxes too.
5. Never wear tight fitting clothes: Tops, pants, belts, or anything around the waist etc must be avoided. Because it would make the LES press against the stomach contents and force the acid to return into the oesophagus. Even tight panties and lingerie can be harmful.
6. Avoid Cigarette Smoke: If you smoke, stop right now. Nicotine as it is bad for our health, and even though it helps the sphincter muscles relax, it also motivates the stomach to produce more than the usual acid. Excess of the same can burn the lining of the stomach and the LES too.
7. Too Much Of Alcohol Is Bad For Your Health: Stop drinking altogether, since alcohol cannot neutralize the acids in the stomach- refluxes happen and then there is the pesky hangover the next morning you don’t want to deal with.
8. Stress: Stress can be a silent killer, we all know that. And stress can cause heartburn too, say medical experts. This is why we need to unwind and relax before every meal for sometime. Meditating and deep breathing can help.
9. Keep a journal, record the duration of the heartburn, the type of heartburn and the way your body reacts to it, each time it happens.
10. Get to the doctor at once if the heartburn doesn’t subside in a day. There could be other underlying causes which you may not know of.
11. With regard to the medication, if you are using unsupervised OTC medication, stop them right now and get your doctor to advise you on what medication to take. And take the medication at the same time every day, without fail.
When to Consult Doctor?
We have said this before and we say this again “YOUR DOCTOR’S WORDS WOULD BE ANY DAY HIGHER THAN WHAT IS WRITTEN HERE”
For those of you suffering from GERD, and if you have the symptoms as mentioned, you need to check with your doctor should it persist.
- Are your symptoms very frequent?
- Are your symptoms very severe?
- Is swallowing food or liquids a challenge for you?
- Do you feel nauseatic and feel like vomiting?
- Do you vomit blood or blackish substance when you puke?
- Have you suddenly loss weight even though you aren’t on a diet?
- Have chronic coughs attacked you?
- Do you feel choked with a lumpy feeling in the throat?
- Are you using too many OTC medications?
- Do you suffer from wheezing and asthma after GERD attacks?
- Is GERD interfering in your daily lifestyle activities?
- Does your chest pain?
- Do you have pains in the legs, the arms and the jaw or the neck?
- Are your pulse levels irregular at times?
- Do you swear in an irregular manner?
- Do you suffer from stomach pains that are extreme?
- Do you have bowel movements that are bloody in nature?
If you answered a YES to any of the questions above, even one, PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR TODAY!
We hope this information on heartburn and the causes, symptoms and how to deal with it, and when to see your doctor comes in handy?
Please remember, this is an informative post only and your doctor would check with you for underlying causes if any, and then suggest the right medication. However, if he allows you to use the home remedies we spoke about, only then go ahead with the same.
We wish you a healthy and a safe life ahead, and want you to be in the prime of health always. Do write in with your thoughts, and let us know how you deal with heartburn too. We would love to share your views and your thoughts on the same with the many readers across the nation. Stay healthy and eat well.
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