The name “heartburn” is a paradox. Though called so, ‘heartburn’ does not have any relation with the heart or its function. Heartburn relates to some sort of discomfort and a burning sensation in the chest accompanied by a sour or bitter taste in the mouth. Heartburn troubles you when the opening between the esophagus and the stomach fails to close after the passage of food into the stomach. At this juncture, the acid from the stomach enters the esophagus causing a burning feeling or warmth beneath the breastbone. Hence the other name, acid reflux.
Certain food stuff including spicy food or tomatoes may cause heartburn. Heartburn occurs commonly after overeating or while doing some activities like bending over or when lying down. It also occurs frequently when your are pregnant or under great stress. Scientists point to some other causes like tobacco, smoking, intake of caffeinated drinks, fatty and friend food items, drinking, citrus juices, lying down after eating (especially a wholesome meal), chocolates etc. are some triggers of a heartburn. The causes surely varies from person to person.
Heartburn may manifest itself in different ways. Other than the burning sensation in the chest or throat you may have difficulty in swallowing, chronic cough, chest pain while bending over or while lying down and so on. If you have heartburn often then you probably have GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Heart attack has similar symptoms and chest pain is the most common of them.
Remember that some medicines also can cause Heartburn. Some of them are anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, anti anxiety medicines and so on.
How to tackle heartburn
However, if you get heartburn often in spite of your precautions or if your heartburn lasts for more than 2 weeks consult your GP without delay.
-Aparna K V