If you have ever felt a burning sensation or pain in your esophagus, it is because you have already experienced heartburn. Here’s what you should know about it.
Stomach acids flowing into the neck or throat causes an uncomfortable burning sensation in the lower chest. You may also have a bitter or sour taste in the back of your mouth and symptoms may be even stronger if you are lying down or leaning over.
That feeling can last for a few minutes or even hours. According to the Mayo Clinic, when this condition occurs occasionally and is usually not a cause for concern, it can be managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. However, if this condition becomes frequent or you have additional symptoms such as severe chest pain or pressure, pain in the arm or jaw bone, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, or persistent nausea, you should go to the doctor.
Causes can range from eating habits such as excessive portions, spicy or seasoned foods, drinking alcohol, eating before bed, among others. It can also be caused by factors such as being overweight, smoking, stress, or wearing tight clothing.
The Cleveland Clinic provides some recommendations for preventing and managing heartburn when it occurs:
- Eat at least three to four hours before going to bed. This gives the stomach a chance to empty and reduces the chance of heartburn.
- Decrease portion sizes at mealtime, or eat four to five small meals a day instead of three large ones.
- Write down foods that seem to cause heartburn on a daily basis to avoid them.
- Avoid smoking; nicotine can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach, and prevents stomach contents from entering the esophagus.
- Avoid alcohol and do exercise, walk, meditate, stretch, or breathe deeply to relieve stress.
- Drink warm liquids, such as herbal tea.
- Monitor when heartburn occurs and the specific activity that may have triggered the incident.
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