Heartburn is a burning chest pain, just behind the breastbone. Occasional heartburn is a fairly common digestive complaint which often accompanies indigestion, and 20% of Americans report heartburn as a weekly occurrence. Also known as acid reflux, heartburn symptoms that persist or become chronic, may be a sign of the more serious condition, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease).
Heartburn is caused by stomach acids rising into the esophagus and although the condition is not connected to the heart, the pain may resemble that of a heart attack. The pain is often worse when lying down or bending over.
In addition to chest pain, heartburn or acid reflux symptoms include chronic cough and a burning sensation in the chest area. Many people who regularly suffer from heartburn are aware of what triggers it, such as certain foods and by avoiding the foods they can control their heartburn. Medications, obesity, and stress, can also contribute to heartburn.
Heartburn symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in the chest and sometimes the throat, after eating
- A sour taste in the mouth
- Pain worsens when lying down or bending over
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling as if food is getting “stuck” in the throat or chest
- Chronic cough, sore throat and hoarseness
Causes of Heartburn
The main cause of heartburn is that during the act of swallowing, the lower esophageal sphincter — a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of the esophagus, doesn’t tighten as it should. Under normal circumstances, relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into the stomach. Then it closes again but if this valve relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus, causing the burning sensation associated with heartburn. The cause of heartburn is the constant flow of acid which irritates the lining of your esophagus, causing it to become inflamed (esophagitis). Over time, the inflammation can wear away the esophageal lining, and the condition develops into GERD.
Why the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t tighten as it should can be attributed to a number of reasons;
- Too much food in the stomach or too much pressure on the stomach from obesity, pregnancy, or constipation
- Certain foods can also cause heartburn including tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated products, and peppermint
- Meals high in fats and oils
- Certain medications
- Stress and lack of sleep can increase acid production which causes heartburn
- Smoking, which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and stimulates stomach acid, also causes heartburn
Making a Heartburn Diagnosis
Since the symptoms of heartburn are fairly straightforward and consistent from person to person, making a heartburn diagnosis is usually easy for a practitioner. However, in conventional medicine, tests may be ordered to monitor the severity of the condition. These tests can be invasive and somewhat traumatic for the patient. They may involve X-rays, a lighted scope being inserted down the throat, a fine needle aspiration or biopsy needle being inserted into the patient, upper GI endoscopy, ERCP, endoscopic ultrasound and liver biopsy.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, making a heartburn diagnosis is a different process. Firstly, the symptoms that the patient is presenting with will be evaluated. A functional evaluation will be performed to assess the functioning of each organ that may be potentially contributing to the symptoms. This is important since the dysfunction of an organ can be as symptomatic as a disease of one. The patient will then be evaluated to see what kind of nutritional supplementation will be required as part of a natural heartburn treatment program, to bring the function of the lower esophageal sphincter back into alignment.
Natural Heartburn Treatment
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, once the diagnosis described above has been made, natural heartburn treatment will then be offered. This will be tailored specifically to each individual patient and will involve testing to see which nutritional supplements they will respond best to, in order to restore the function of the lower esophageal sphincter. Natural heartburn treatment will address potential multifactorial issues which may be setting off a “chain reaction” throughout the body and so it is important to handle all components of these multiple issues, to ensure the body begins to heal properly.
In addition to a doctor recommended heartburn treatment program at LifeWorks, there are some additional natural heartburn treatments which can be made and which take the form of lifestyle changes including:
- Not going to be with a full stomach
- Quitting smoking
- Eating slowly and not overeating at mealtimes
- Identifying and avoiding foods which may be triggering the heartburn (see list under Causes of Heartburn)
- Lose weight if over-weight
- Avoid or reduce alcohol intake
- Try to keep stress to a minimum
Clearwater & Tampa Heartburn Treatment
LifeWorks Wellness Center is long recognized as one of the foremost natural health clinics in the US. At our Tampa Bay, Florida alternative medicine office we have been offering natural heartburn treatment for a long time and many of our patients have benefitted from it. Our patients fly in from all over the world because they simply can’t find clinics offering effective, natural heartburn treatments & solutions where they live.
We have helped many patients regain their health and we would love to help you, too. To become a patient, or for more information, feel free to call our New Patient Coordinator at (727) 466-6789 or simply submit an online web inquiry with your request.