Chronic heartburn can be quite a nuisance and if not managed, can even lead to serious problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcer and esophageal cancer. Chronic heartburn is a serious gastric disorder and may not be caused solely by the types of foods you eat. Basically, heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach travels up to the esophagus which happens when you lie down after a meal or if there is a high level of acid in the stomach that it splashes up the esophagus. Severe heartburn can cause a lot of discomfort, chest pains and sleeplessness.
Severe heartburn can be the result of heartburn which wasn’t treated early on or simply of bad eating habits. Foods that can cause heartburn include citrus juices, chocolates, fatty foods and fried foods. Eating your dinner right before your bedtime also causes heartburn. Skipping a meal and overeating later also tends to cause heartburn. Too much food in the stomach will require higher levels of acids for digestion. It is possible to reduce heartburn by eating several small meals a day than three large meals. Smoking can also lead to chronic heartburn as the nicotine content can cause the muscle that closes the bottom of the esophagus (called lower esophageal sphincter or LES) to relax giving the acids opportunity to enter the esophagus. Wearing tight clothes can also contribute to frequent heartburn as such clothing can increase the pressure in the stomach and push acid back to the esophagus.
How to Treat Chronic Heartburn
The following are some useful tips on how to fight severe heartburn:
- Cut down on alcohol. Alcohol can contain high amounts of sugar that can make your heartburn worse. Alcohol also relaxes the LES allowing stomach acids to enter the esophagus.
- Avoid eating before your bed time. Your last meal for the day should at least be 2-3 hours from your bed time to prevent acid reflux. Lying down after consuming a meal tends to make stomach acid travel up the esophagus causing heartburn.
- Cut down on aspirin and other pain killers. These types of medication may be responsible to your heartburn as they can interfere with your digestion.
- Stop smoking. This may not be too easy to do but quitting will also lead to the treatment of chronic heartburn. Like alcohol, nicotine relaxes the LES making you more prone to heartburn.
- Divide your meals to smaller ones. Large meals are harder to digest and they tend to sit longer in your stomach. Foods that are difficult to digest require more acids and the more acids your stomach produces, the higher the risk of you experiencing heartburn.
- Reduce weight if you are overweight. Being overweight adds pressure to the stomach and can force food and acids to go back up the esophagus.
- Avoid heartburn causing foods. There are foods that can cause heartburn and finding out what they are can help you minimize the discomfort brought about by this condition. Foods to avoid include fatty and fried foods, large amounts of tomatoes, chocolates and caffeine-based foods and drinks.
Chronic heartburn should not be allowed to limit your lifestyle. You must try and find treatments as soon as possible. If the tips above are insufficient, you can always consult your physician.