Have you ever felt a stomach ache, especially after eating really big meals or after eating spicy food such as Korean instant noodles or spicy ayam gepuk? If you say yes, then this may be a sign of heartburn, especially if the pain you feel seems to be in between your chest and stomach area. Heartburn is common in Malaysia. Heartburn is a symptom that would depict the long list of gastrointestinal diseases. Gastrointestinal diseases are ailments that affect the organs where food and liquid travels through when it is eaten or ingested and leave the body in forms of stool. In short, the gastrointestinal system involves mouth, throat, oesophagus (food tube), stomach, intestine both small and large, rectum and anus. It is estimated that at least 50% of the adult population suffer at least one of the many diseases involving the gastrointestinal system.1 in 5 Malaysians suffer heartburn. There are many medicines available in the market, either on the counter or prescribed by doctors to help treat this condition such as Nexium 40 mg. In this article, we will be knowing more about heartburn and how to treat it.
Heartburn is defined as the burning feeling in the chest which is especially caused by the stomach acid. It is often triggered by certain food or drinks such as spicy, fatty and acidic which often taste sour or bitter. At times, heartburn is associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). No matter what is the cause of the heartburn or diseases linked to heartburn being the symptom, one thing for sure it does cause great inconvenience and pain.
Main symptom of heartburn, as the name implies, is the burning sensation that can be felt in the middle of the chest where you usually also feel where your heart beats. Other symptoms include bloating and feeling sick. Heartburn symptom is often confused with GERD but it has two different meanings but it often seems similar. GERD is known as a disease whereas heartburn is a symptom. In short, people with GERD definitely have heartburn but people with heartburn may not have GERD. People with GERD often complain of an unpleasant sour or bitter taste in their mouth depicting the stomach acid that climbs up the oesophagus. In severe cases, it could cause cough or hiccups that do not cease, hoarse voice caused by the irritating stomach acid corroding the throat and bad breath. Symptoms usually get worse after eating and when lying down or bending over.
Heartburn can be blamed over many causes but it is possible someone may not even have particular causes behind their heartburn. Among the many causes includes food that triggers the excess production of stomach acid, people with overweight, stressful conditions leading to stress and anxiety, increase of hormones, certain medicines and medical conditions such as hernia. While heartburn is common and can be conditional, it is best to seek medical advice especially when heartburn gets worse and does not subside or getting severe enough that it begins to mess up your daily life activities.
Treating heartburn is as simple as understanding why heartburn occurs. As mentioned, heartburn is caused by the excessive production of stomach acid. By understanding this, treatments involve either reducing the production of the stomach acid or to neutralise the acid. There are many home remedies or things you can buy by yourself first to treat heartburn. Among these are:
- Use OTC heartburn medications such as antacids.
- Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water and drink it slowly. This remedy should only be used on occasion.
- Add grated raw ginger into boiling water or get yourself ginger tea bags. Only use it in small amounts and avoid using ginger ale because common ginger ale offers ginger flavouring plus carbonate that could worsen the heartburn and does not contain real ginger.
- Wear loose clothing since tight clothing might be the reason the stomach is compressed and lead to acid build-up.
- Chew sugar-free gums. Study shows that by doing this 30 minutes after meals can help reduce heartburn.
- Fix your posture by avoiding slouching in the long term.
- Raise your head by 10 to 20 cm by placing pillows or be at the end of the bed and making sure your head and chest are above the level of the waist. This can prevent stomach acid from travelling up towards the throat.
- Take liquorice supplements. Liquorice in forms of Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) can help build the mucous coating of the esophageal lining that can help reduce heartburn symptoms by protecting the oesophagus from damage by stomach acid.
In essence, the best way to treat heartburn is by asking for medical advice especially if this condition often occurs and you do not understand why it happens. Yes you can treat heartburn symptoms by yourself but if it does not go away and gets worse, please seek medical advice and do not let it be untreated. If you left heartburn untreated, you may have a high risk for a damaged oesophagus due to the presence of GERD. Worst thing to come is risk for developing esophageal cancer when the oesophagus is constantly damaged by the stomach acid.
Also read: Dengue Prevention.