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Posted on January 24, 2017


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What Is Heartburn And What Can You Do About It?

Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Some of the symptoms, however, are similar to those of a heart attack or heart disease. Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid. This can create a burning discomfort in the upper abdomen or below the breast bone.

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What Is Heartburn And What Can You Do About It?

Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Some of the symptoms, however, are similar to those of a heart attack or heart disease. Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid. This can create a burning discomfort in the upper abdomen or below the breast bone.

Occasional heartburn isn’t dangerous, but chronic heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can sometimes lead to serious problems. Heartburn is a weekly occurrence for up to 20% of Americans.

The basic cause of heartburn is a lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, that doesn’t tighten as it should. Two excesses often contribute to this problem: too much food in the stomach (overeating) or too much pressure on the stomach (frequently from obesity, pregnancy, or constipation). Certain foods commonly relax the LES, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated products, and peppermint. Meals high in fats and oils (animal or vegetable) often lead to heartburn, as do certain medications. Stress and lack of sleep can increase acid production and can cause heartburn. And smoking, which relaxes the LES and stimulates stomach acid, is a major contributor.

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