For starters, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart (blood pumping organ). I am referring to that burning sensation in the chest that usually occurs after eating. It is a very common symptom that comes as a result of acidic stomach content going back in to the esophagus (the tube that carries food from mouth to stomach).
Causes and tips to prevent a heartburn
- Diet: it could come as a result of overeating (putting too much food in your stomach) or eating certain meals or drinks that trigger heartburn (meals rich in fats and oils, spicy meals, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, gaseous drinks and more) or even when you eat.
- Eat in smaller chunks of food than eating heavy meals at once and chew food well before swallowing.
- Keep a food diary, each time you notice the burning sensation, you note what meals you had and try to avoid them.
- Too much pressure on the stomach: this could be either by a medical condition ( like constipation, pregnancy, or obesity) or from wearing tight fitting outfits
- Lose some weight
- Wear loose fitting outfits
Consult a doctor when
- Frequency of symptoms are more than twice a week
- Heartburn in child or pregnant woman or persons aged greater than 50years
- Difficulties swallowing, bloody vomiting, weight loss
- Persistence of symptoms despite treatment
Pharmacy (Over the counter drugs)
- Antacids: these drugs are fast relievers for heartburn as they neutralize excess acid, however they do not have a long duration of action. They usually contain Magnesium and/or aluminium salts e.g. Maalox, Gaviscon
- Antihistamines (H2): they take about an hour to act but last for much longer e.g. cimetidine, ranitidine
- Proton pump inhibitors: prevent the secretion of acid in the stomach e.g. Omeprazole
Remember to always ask your pharmacists on how to use any of these drugs and read the drug facts label.
Myth and facts
- Drinking a glass of milk to ease the pain: FALSE inasmuch as milk tastes good and offers temporal relief for heartburn, the nutrients in milk like fat will stimulate the stomach to produce more acid hence more burn
- Chewing gum helps: TRUE how? helps you swallow much so pushing the acidic contents out of the esophagus back into the stomach, encourages faster digestion too.
- Do not lie down within 2 hours after eating and raise upper part of body when sleeping.
- For more information on this topic, meet your local pharmacist.
Don’t forget to share this post!
About the author
Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.