Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Heart Burn – its causes, management and prevention

Heart Burn – its causes, management and prevention New Delhi, March 21, 2016: Heartburn is a painful condition that’s caused when stomach acid flows up into your esophagus. It is the burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth. It usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down. The feeling can last for a few minutes or a few hours. The lining of your esophagus simply doesn’t have the same protective layers that allow your stomach to stand up to powerful digestive acids. So when acid flows up into your esophagus, a process called Acid Reflux, it causes a nagging pain in your chest and possibly even your throat called heartburn. Heartburn is quite common and affects a large section of the population on a weekly basis. Speaking about the same, Dr SS Agarwal – National President IMA & Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General IMA and President HCFI said, “Despite its name, heartburn doesn't affect the heart. It can however be extremely painful and distressing. Thus raising awareness about its prevention and treatment is key. There are several causes of the condition including eating large and heavy meals, which can cause your stomach to produce too much acid. Eating irregularly or too quickly can mean that acid levels in the stomach don't have time to regulate. Eating on the run or just before bedtime can make it easier for acid to escape back up into the esophagus. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol tend to increase acidity in your stomach. Fatty foods tend to stay in your stomach for longer because fats are slower to digest.” Many things can make heartburn worse including cigarette smoking, coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks, fatty and spicy food items to name a few. Heartburn is most common after overeating, when bending over or when lying down. Pregnancy, stress and certain foods can also make heartburn worse. Many people can identify the triggers for their symptoms and take action accordingly, but if you are suffering regularly, or have any concerns, consult your GP. A few ways in heart-burns can be prevented and managed include: Avoid late-night meals. Having a meal or snack within 3 hours of lying down to sleep can worsen reflux, causing heartburn. Leave enough time for the stomach to clear out. Don't exercise right after meals. Give your stomach time to empty. Wait a couple of hours, but don’t lie down either. This will only worsen reflux. Sleep on an incline. Raising your torso up a bit with a wedge-shaped cushion may ease nighttime heartburn. But, propping your head and shoulders with regular pillows can actually increase pressure on the stomach by curling you up at the waist. Identify and avoid foods associated with heartburn. Common foods are fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, and chocolate. Carbonated beverages cause belching, which also causes reflux. Chew sugarless gum after a meal. Chewing gum promotes salivation, which helps neutralize acid, soothes the esophagus, and washes acid back down to the stomach. Avoid peppermint-flavored gum, which may trigger heartburn more than other flavors. Rule out side effects of medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether any of the medications you take might cause pain resembling heartburn or contribute to reflux. Lose weight if you are overweight as being overweight puts more pressure on the stomach and pushes stomach contents into the esophagus. The tight-fitting clothing and belts that come with weight gain may also be a factor

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