eLanka | Heart Burn- what is it?-by Harold Gunatillake


Harold Gunatillake



Heart burn is a symptom you feel, when stomach acid backs up or refluxes into the esophagus, or I mean your gullet the food pipe that connects the throat with your stomach.

The gullet is more friendly to alkaline foods because your saliva which gets mixed with your food you eat is more alkaline.

Your gullet does not like acidic foods or acidic drinks, or gastric acid juice eructing into the gullet.

So, when stomach acid with food you eat, refluxes back into your gullet you get that burning feeling behind your heart.

So, now you know why the condition is referred to as heart burn.

Heartburn could be due to overeating your biriyani or a large meal.

Hot spicy food you enjoy can reflux through a weak valve mechanism between your stomach and gullet can give heart burn.

Even eating just before you get to sleep can give you heart burn.

Acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon and orange juice can give you heart burn.

Sometimes, coffee, tea or the sodas can burp and give you heart burn.

Alcohol could be a culprit because it is acidic.

Certain medications, including antihistamines, painkillers and antidepressants can cause heart burn.

Being overweight is a frequent cause of heart burn. In this situation the opening in the diaphragm a fibro-muscular membrane that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity can get widened and a small portion of the upper stomach can slide into the chest cavity, disrupting the sphincter mechanism in the lower esophagus. This is referred to as a hiatus hernia.

Some of you watching this video will say, “I don’t get it”.

So, let us discuss why only some people, get heart burn.

This condition is also called GERD-Gastro esophageal reflux disorder, if you experience heartburn, or indigestion frequently more than twice a week.

In the US 15%-30% got GERD in a survey done in 2014. 995,402 were hospitalized in 1998, whilst 3.14 million were hospitalized for GERD in 2005.

Now, let us touch on the valve mechanism at the junction of your lower gullet and the upper stomach.

At the lower end of the gullet entering the stomach area, the smooth muscles seem to get thickened and has a sphincter action.

 When this sphincter relaxes abnormally when food enters your stomach, food mixed with gastric acid juice can reflux into your lower gullet.

So, GERD results from the improper working of this valve mechanism – called the lower esophageal sphincter that normally keeps the food and acids inside the stomach.

This could happen if you go to sleep immediately after a heavy dinner.

In addition to the sphincter there is a valve mechanism at the upper end of the stomach, called the cardia.

If the acidic food keeps refluxing into the lower gullet, can cause inflammation of the lower esophageal inner lining, become fibrous and narrow the gullet causing difficulty in swallowing food.

This is also referred to as Barrett’s esophagitis.

You need lifestyle changes to rectify the situation in GERD as described before: avoid smoking, restrict you drinking fluid that cause heart burn, eat foods that are right for you, have a light dinner two to three hours before sleep, reduce weight if you are overweight, avoid wearing tight belts, among others

For hiatus hernia an operation called fundoplication of the upper stomach is recommended.

Water brash is a situation where a person produces an excessive amount of saliva that mixes with stomach acids that have risen to the throat. A person experiencing water brash can get a bad taste in their mouth and feel heartburn. Doctors sometimes refer to water brash as pyrosis idiopathic, acid brash, or hypersalivation.

Hoarseness of your voice could be due to acid reflux.

Sleeping on a reclining chair eases the acid reflux.

Further management is not discussed. It is best to see your doctor.

Thank you for watching this video

Bye for now stay safe.


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