Posted By: Kerry M.

Category: Health

Millions of Americans suffer from heartburn every year, but many don’t know what heartburn is or what causes a heartburn attack. While heartburn itself is a common condition, there are several more serious conditions that can cause heartburn, so frequent flare ups should be reported to your doctor to rule out other health issues.

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest area, which may become worse when bending over or lying down. It occurs when acids from the stomach seep back up into the esophagus, causing discomfort. It’s normal and common for people to experience heartburn from time to time, usually after eating something that upsets digestion. Frequent bouts of heartburn, however, can be a sign of trouble and should be reported to your doctor. Conditions, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), certain hernias, and even pregnancy can also cause frequent heartburn, as can many medications. Other, more serious conditions, such as heart problems, may also present similarly to heartburn. If you feel you may be experiencing heart attack symptoms, you should seek immediate attention from a doctor.

Heartburn Treatment

Acute heartburn symptoms can be treated in a variety of ways, including over the counter medications to natural remedies. Drinking milk has long been thought to be a natural cure for heartburn, especially mild forms of the condition. Antacids or other medications may also prove helpful during flare ups. For more persistent, severe, or reoccurring heartburn problems, prescription medication, and sometimes surgery, may be necessary to correct the problem.

Heartburn Prevention

Even better than finding an effective way to treat heartburn is finding a way to prevent it altogether. There are several things you can do to prevent heartburn from flaring up, especially if it’s not related to another health condition. The most important part of heartburn prevention is understanding triggers and avoiding them. Triggers can be anything from certain foods to stress, and known culprits should be avoided whenever possible. Common heartburn triggers include:

  • Overeating
  • Certain foods, including fried/fatty foods, citrus, spicy foods, and acidic foods (tomatoes)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Being overweight
  • Lying down after eating, especially after large meals
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Clothing that is too tight
  • Eating too close to bedtime
  • Medications, such as NSAIDs or anti-inflammatory medications

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