Causes of Heartburn

Causes of Heartburn

When stomach acid travels up into the esophagus it causes an uncomfortable burning sensation called heartburn.

Excerpt from WebMD:

"...the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, keeps stomach acid in the stomach. The LES is located where the esophagus meets the stomach -- below the rib cage and slightly left of center. Normally it opens to allow food into the stomach or to permit belching; then it closes again. But if the LES opens too often or does not close tight enough, stomach acid can reflux, or seep, into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation."

Most everyone gets heartburn occasionally. Chronic heartburn can be a red flag that something bigger is going on, and/or lead to more serious conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Everyone is different, so while one factor may affect you, it might not be as much of a trigger for me, and vice versa. That said, here are some common causes of heartburn to consider:

Too much caffeine can relax the lower esophegal sphincter (LES).

Too much citrus fruit and/or fruit juices (lemons, limes, oranges, grapfruits, tangerines, etc.)

Alcohol causes heartburn for some people.

Deep fried foods slow the digestive process, remaining in the stomach longer than other foods, which can lead to excess stomach acid being produced.

Tomatoes and tomato products cause heartburn for some people, as they can relax the LES.

Chocolate contains theobromine (also found in coffee and tea) which relaxes the LES.

A really big meal can cause heartburn simply due to "over-stuffing" the stomach.

Eating a large meal too close to bedtime can be a biggie, as laying down with a full stomach makes the possibility of food traveling back into the esophagus more likely.

Too much physical pressure on the stomach, whether due to tight clothes, pregnancy or obesity.

Smoking relaxes the lower esophegal sphincter and increases stomach acid - double trouble for the heartburn sufferer.

Some prescription medications cause heartburn as a side effect.

And of course, stress. When you're feeling stressed your digestive system might be feeling stressed too.

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