Heartburn can occur underneath the breastbone in the middle of the chest. However, it can also be felt high in the abdomen or just below the breastbone. The pain doesn’t actually come from the heart, but the oesophagus and the stomach.
Heartburn symptoms, other than the obvious burning pain the chest or throat, can include:
• Sour taste in the mouth
• Trouble swallowing
• Stuffed nose
• Gastric discomfort
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and many of the causes are the same, including obesity, stress, smoking, anti-inflammatory painkillers or triggering foods. Some people who suffer with heartburn may have a hiatus hernia which is when part of your stomach moves up into your chest.
What foods cause heartburn?
Some common heartburn food and drink triggers include:
• Spicy foods
• Raw onion
• Citrus fruits
• Caffeinated drinks
• Fatty foods
• Salty foods
The uncomfortable feeling of heartburn can last from a number of minutes to a number of hours, or longer. Swallowing antacids can alleviate the symptoms and provide relief. However, heartburn can last until the food has been digested and may reappear if you bend over or lie down.
What helps heartburn
Heartburn is inconvenient and can be painful. When heartburn strikes, bar purchasing antacids, try some of the following remedies to help alleviate the symptoms:
• Change into loose clothing
• Keep your upper body elevated and straight
• Chew gum
• Sip apple cider vinegar
• Try chewing on ginger
• Take liquorice supplements
Ultimately it is lifestyle changes that will you avoid heartburn in the long term. If you are suffering with recurrent bouts of heartburn try:
• Shedding any excess weight
• Quit smoking
• Use herbal remedies
• Introduce more exercise into your life
• Avoid triggering foods
• Do not eat late at night
Many women are bothered by heartburn during pregnancy. During pregnancy hormones change dramatically. An outcome of this is the muscles in the oesophagus relax, allowing stomach acid to flow backwards, causing the pain and discomfort of heartburn.
Furthermore, as the baby grows, the stomach and organs are pushed in all directions to make room. Therefore, women in their second and third trimester can find heartburn painful and frustrating.
Before taking any medication whilst pregnant, consult a doctor. Magnesium and calcium carbonate-based antacids are good options to relieve heartburn during pregnancy. However, magnesium shouldn’t be ingested during the final trimester as it can affect contractions during labour.
Antacids containing high levels of sodium, aluminium hydroxide or aluminium carbonate should be avoided. Aluminium based antacids can cause constipation and sodium can equate to a build-up of fluid.
Can stress cause heartburn?
According to some studies stress is recognised as a trigger for heartburn and can make symptoms of acid reflux worse. Scientists currently believe that when you are stressed or upset your body is more sensitive. This can result in even the smallest amount of stomach acid in the oesophagus causing irritation and pain.