Heartburn – An unhappy esophagus


Heartburn is a discomforting burning in the chest area. This feeling might occur every now and then for some people, while others might have reoccurring symptoms. Heart burn likes to present itself after eating, in the evening, and when lying down or bending over. Sometimes in addition to the chest pain, a bitter or acidic taste can result in the mouth.

The esophagus is the main location of heartburn. The role of the esophagus is to allow food and water to pass to the stomach. The muscles at the bottom of the esophagus relax so that food can flow downwards. Then the muscle re-tightens once the substance has made its way to the stomach. However, if this relaxation motion is not operating correctly, stomach acid can back up in the esophagus. This back up is referred to as “acid reflux” which causes the heart burning sensation. The backup worsens when lying down or bending over. Being overweight or pregnant can also increase the risk of heartburn.

For some victims, heartburn is reoccurring. This condition is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The lining of the esophagus can be greatly damaged and inflamed. A doctor can perform an X-ray, probe test, or endoscopy to diagnose GERD.

Food is a very common culprit of this condition. Particular aggravators include citrus, spicy foods, onions, fried foods, tomato products such as ketchup, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and foods that are very high in fat. Knowing what foods are triggers can help sufferers avoid the burn, not eating late meals, not lying down after meals, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping the head elevated when lying in bed, can all aid in easing symptoms. Sleeping on your left side and even eating cooked versus raw vegetables like onions are also lifestyle changes that can help. Sometimes momentary food and drink choices catch up to us later. Let your health dictate better choices. Your body will thank you rather than send signals like burning to tell you to take better care of yourself.

Current Trends in the Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease – PMC (nih.gov)

Management of Patients With Functional Heartburn – Gastroenterology (gastrojournal.org)

Antacids revisited: review on contemporary facts and relevance for self-management – Vandana Garg, Prashant Narang, Ritu Taneja, 2022 (sagepub.com)

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.