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Dhaka Tribune

Keeping heartburn at bay

Update : 03 Aug 2013, 05:46 AM

Lots of scrumptious food on the dining table will be waiting for you in every home from the morning of Eid. Before Eid prayer take few of those food. After prayer, take a heavy meal and don't forget to drink a cup of coffee or tea at the end. Then go out to meet friends and in every home take few of the delicious food. Eat all these food as fast as you can. All done? Now you are ready to talk about heartburn. What is heartburn? Just hold on a couple of minutes and you will know.

Heartburn is very common and very unpleasant. Nothing ruins a great meal more than a painful bout of heartburn. Even the word evokes a frightening picture: your heart on fire. Fortunately, the word is a misnomer. It's not your heart that's on fire, it's your esophagus. Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest, just behind your breastbone. The pain is often worse when lying down or bending over.

Heartburn, or reflux, is not related to heart conditions. It is a form of indigestion that occurs when acid and digestive juices flow back up from the stomach to the gullet, which doesn't have a protective lining. Thus, it causes inflammation and pain.

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. Normally when you swallow, your lower esophageal sphincter "” a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus "” relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again. However, if the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn.

Who's at risk?

People who are overweight, eat large meals, wear tight-fitting dress and smoke are very much prone to developing heartburn.

Foods that trigger heartburn

Some food "“ like onion, garlic, chocolate, caffeine, peppermint, fatty and spicy foods, fruits like grapes, oranges and caffeine are known to be linked to heartburn. Caffeine may lower pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and worsen symptoms of acid reflux.

To prevent heartburn, eat more vegetables and high-fibre food, avoid overeating by eating smaller meals. Yogurt can be helpful in acid reflux, so take it at the end of your large meal. Salad is a primary meal to counter acid refluxes, although tomatoes and onions should be avoided, as well as cheese and high-fat dressings. Sometimes fruits like banana with high levels of potassium may help prevent or resolve acid reflux. Though, about 1% of acid reflux sufferers find that their condition is worsened by bananas.

Lifestyle modifications

Don't drink water while taking food. It is better to drink water 20-30 minutes later a meal is taken.

Avoid bending from the waist after meals; it puts pressure on the stomach. Don't lie down after a meal. Wait at least three hours before lying down or going to bed. Try to walk in your home for 15-30 minutes.

In case of nighttime heartburn raise the head end of your bed about six inches to prevent acid reflux against the gravity. Don't smoke. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly.

Wear loose fitting clothes. It is another way to relief heartburn by taking pressure off the abdomen. Avoid the skin-tight jeans and loosen your belt. Tight clothes put added pressure on the abdomen.

Chewing gum is helpful. Researchers' revealed, chewing gum raises the level of saliva and bicarbonate "“ a naturally-occurring antacid in saliva "“ which neutralises acids in the oesophagus.

Medicines those help H2 blockers reduce acid secretion in the stomach by up to 85%, decreasing the amount that can flow back up the gullet.

They can take up to an hour to work. Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are the most potent acid suppressing therapy, stopping stomach acid production by up to 95%.

Antacids, the most common therapy, relieve symptoms in five to 15 minutes, but the effects don't last beyond an hour. They neutralize stomach acids, but don't prevent heartburn.

Don't forget Symptoms of heartburn can be confused with the pain that is a symptom of an acute myocardial infarction or heart attack and angina. So you must keep this point in mind and consult your doctor if in confusion.  

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