Are you experiencing frequent heartburn, but don’t know why? Your doctor may suggest that you reexamine your diet as heartburn is commonly caused by certain foods. But there are other, unusual reasons for heartburn.
What Causes Heartburn?
Heartburn occurs when acidic food or stomach acid comes up from the stomach and into the esophagus. This creates a burning pain that radiates throughout the chest. Many Americans frequently experience heartburn. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, 60 million Americans have heartburn at least once a month. Even worse, 15 million Americans have heartburn symptoms every day.
Reasons for Heartburn
Some people get heartburn because of gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD). Others have heartburn triggered by spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, caffeine, and alcohol. There are also more unusual causes for heartburn. Listed below are just a few examples.
- Medications. Medicine is supposed to make you feel better; unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Studies show that certain medications can cause heartburn. Some blood pressure drugs can hamper your lower esophageal sphincter, allowing your stomach acids to rise and give you heartburn. And certain brands of ibuprofen can increase stomach acids, which can lead to heartburn. If you suspect that your medication is causing you heartburn, talk to your doctor about possible solutions, such as different medications.
- Smoking. Smoking is an undeniable, unhealthy habit. It can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and even heartburn. Like certain medications, nicotine in cigarettes affects the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. This allows stomach acids to burn the esophagus. Smoking also reduces saliva, which typically flushes stomach acids from the throat. In short, smoking and heartburn do not mix. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that to reduce your frequent heartburn, it’s important to quit smoking.
- Exercise. Lots of physical activity is important for healthy living and for reducing chances of heartburn. Unfortunately, certain exercises actually trigger heartburn. Exercises that put pressure on the abdomen, like sit-ups, or exercises that reverse the natural flow of digestion, like certain yoga positions, can lead to heartburn. Reduce your chances of getting heartburn via exercise by taking mindful steps. For instance, try not to exercise within two hours of eating. Also, consider changing your exercise regimen until you find a routine that doesn’t cause you heartburn.
- Stress. Stress and heartburn do not mix. Stressful days at the office can lead to heartburn. Stressed leads to heartburn because stressed individuals are more likely to take up unhealthy habits like smoking and overeating. When stressed, the body is at a heightened sense of awareness that can make the heartburn symptoms more pronounced and aware. Stress also lowers the levels of certain stomach-coating compounds, which can also lead to heartburn. Rid this painful burning from your life by taking steps to lower your stress. Consider meditation or breathing exercises when you’re stressed.