Heartburn can be defined as a burning or burning sensation in the area behind the breastbone, sometimes up to the throat. Episodic heartburn is a natural reaction to dietary mistakes, e.g. eating too much, however, is often a sign of illness.
How does heartburn happen?
Heartburn occurs when food returns (regurgitated) from the stomach into the esophagus, causing stomach acid to irritate the mucous membranes. The natural mechanism to counteract gastrointestinal reflux is the contraction of the lower esophageal sphincter after a meal. If the sphincter relaxes too often, the food contents regress and the appearance of heartburn occurs. In addition to the "burning" pain around the sternum, it can be accompanied by belching, hiccups, nausea and a sour taste in the mouth.
The causes of heartburn
Episodes of heartburn can be influenced by many factors, including: dietary mistakes, such as eating large meals, fatty and hard-to-digest products, eating in a hurry, certain types of beverages, e.g. natural coffee, alcohol. In addition, many scientific studies show a relationship between the occurrence of heartburn and excess body weight. Smokers also belong to the group of people who develop heartburn more often because smoking tobacco reduces the tension of the lower esophageal sphincter and inhibits saliva, which neutralizes hydrochloric acid from refluxed food.
Is heartburn a symptom of an illness?
Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux disease when stomach contents return to the esophagus.
Gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is the regurgitation of food into the esophagus that causes troublesome symptoms and / or complications. Mild symptoms occurring two or more days a week or moderate to severe symptoms occurring at least one day per week are considered troublesome.
Returning stomach contents into the esophagus is seen in many people, especially after eating a heavy, fatty meal or drinking wine. If this phenomenon occurs rarely, reflux episodes are short, the gastrointestinal tract is quickly cleared of reflux, and there are no symptoms - then we are talking about physiological reflux.
Reflux disease - pathological gastroesophageal reflux disease - occurs when the esophageal mucosa is exposed to acidic gastric contents for a long time, episodes are more frequent, esophageal cleansing fails, irritation and damage occurs.
This disease requires special attention and quick diagnosis in the case of swallowing disorders, when it is not easy and causes discomfort, when weight loss for no reason and vomiting with blood occurs. In this disease, the most common therapeutic management is the use of acid-inhibiting drugs.
What about heartburn?
Lifestyle modifications - What to avoid to help prevent episodes of heartburn
Do not work in a bent position.
Do not lie down immediately after eating a meal.
Place your upper body higher while you sleep.
Give up tight underwear / clothing.
Give up smoking.
Diet - What to Avoid With Heartburn?
Should be avoided
large-sized meals (stretches the stomach while relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, which may result in more frequent regurgitation of gastric contents down the esophagus).
citrus fruits and juices from citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato products, spicy and sour dishes, onion vegetables,
natural coffee and alcohol (caffeine and ethanol are strong stimulants of gastric acid secretion, which is the cause of heartburn),
chocolate, chocolate products, cocoa
fats (delay gastric emptying, increase the regurgitation of stomach contents into the esophagus),
carbonated drinks (the released gas in the stomach increases the volume of the food, which promotes heartburn),
sweets containing alcohol and mint,
baking powders, bouillon cubes, sauces with monosodium glutamate, mushrooms.
Natural herbs and herbal mixtures
n the case of heartburn, you can also help yourself with natural herbs and herbal mixtures that have an anti-inflammatory and coating effect on the esophagus and stomach mucosa. These raw materials do not inhibit the secretion of gastric juice, but they increase the protection of the gastrointestinal mucosa. Therefore, they do not disturb digestion, but improve it. Such herbal mixtures include, among others:
licorice root - has anti-inflammatory properties. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It is used both in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and in inflammation of the respiratory tract, which is important in the case of symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux.
Marigold flower - used for inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, especially of the nose and throat.
Marshmallow root - due to the content of substances with protective properties on mucous membranes, it is used to treat inflammations of the upper gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tract.
Linseed - otherwise popular linseed. It is a typical mucus material whose macerates have a sticky effect. They soothe inflammations of the mouth, throat and gastrointestinal tract.
Lemon balm leaf - has a calming and relaxing effect in relation to smooth muscles. It also has antimicrobial properties (e.g. against Candida albicans fungi), and brings beneficial effects against viruses, e.g. the herpes virus. Lemon balm leaf and herb also increase the secretion of mucus in the respiratory tract, so they can be successfully used in the case of advanced heartburn.
It should be remembered that the use of drugs that reduce the secretion of hydrochloric acid may disturb the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Neutralization of the gastric contents also disrupts the digestive process. Therefore, an alternative to acid-reducing drugs can be the use of plant raw materials. If the patient's condition requires it, antacids and herbs are combined. As improvement improves, the dosage of the medications is reduced and then only herbs are used in conjunction with lifestyle modification. Treatment of diseases occurring within the digestive tract should include the smallest possible intervention in the physiological processes taking place within it.
Banks, Matthew, and United Kingdom. "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: Recent Research and Management." Clinical Medicine9 (2009)