Heartburn: Heartburn Causes

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Heartburn Causes
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Heartburn Causes

What causes Heartburn?

The basic cause of heartburn is when your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) becomes weakened or relaxes abnormally. The LES is a circular band of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus. It acts like a 'valve' in the esophagus just as it enters the stomach. Normally when you swallow, your LES relaxes to let food and liquid flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. However, in some people the LES may open too often or not close tight enough. When this happens the acid in your stomach can flow back up into your esophagus. Since your esophagus doesn't have the same protective lining your stomach does, the acid can irritate its more sensitive tissues. This can trigger heartburn discomfort.

Heartburn foods to avoid

Although the actual cause of heartburn is physical, people generally see heartburn triggers as their heartburn cause. Food is often a heartburn trigger. In fact, 94% of adults surveyed believed over-eating is a heartburn cause.

Check this list of common heartburn foods to see if any could be triggering your heartburn:

  • Tomatoes, tomato sauce and ketchup.
  • Oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits and juices
  • Garlic
  • Vinegar
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, tea or other caffeinated products
  • Alcohol
  • Peppermint
  • Fried & Fatty foods
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Mustard, pepper and other spices
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Other Heartburn Causes
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Habits that may trigger your heartburn

Many people feel that how they eat or what activities they take part in can be a heartburn cause. Here are some habits that could be triggering your heartburn symptoms:

  • Eating large meals or eating too fast
  • Laying down right after eating
  • Eating close to bedtime
  • Drinking alcohol or smoking
  • Pressure on the stomach: frequent bending over, tight clothes, lifting
  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Exercising soon after eating

Medications that may cause heartburn

There are some medications that can cause heartburn by relaxing the LES. You may want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor about your heartburn if you're taking any of the following:

  • Medications for asthma or allergies
  • Prescription blood pressure or angina pills
  • Medication for a urinary tract infection
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Prescription pain killers
  • Antidepressants

Physical changes & conditions that may lead to heartburn

It's true that what you eat, your habits or even your medication could be triggering your heartburn. However the fact is that heartburn is a real condition with biological causes. Here are some physical reasons you could be suffering from heartburn:

  • Pregnancy
  • Acid Reflux
  • GERD or Acid Reflux Disease
  • Weak esophageal muscles
  • Stomach emptying muscles
  • Obesity: The more overweight you are, the more often you get heartburn
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Peptic ulcer