Causes of Heartburn


Many of us suddenly get a burning sensation that starts in the chest.  This condition occurs sometimes just after we have eaten. After our stomachs have digested the food, the stomach juices can sometimes flow into the gullet, or as it is correctly called the esophagus.  When that happens the esophagus lining gets irritated and a burning sensation can felt be especially near the heart.  This is the main cause of heartburn for most people.

The part of the body that is responsible for heartburn occurring is the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, or LES as it is sometimes called.  This valve is responsible for keeping the stomach juices within our stomachs.  The intestines of the stomach are capable of dealing with the stomach acids.  However if for any reason the LES relaxes then the stomach juices can flow into the esophagus and begin causing heartburn.

The walls or the skin of the esophagus are very thin, therefore the esophagus can get irritated by the acidity of the stomach juices.  There are a few factors for the cause of heartburn to occur.  Here is a list of what is considered to be some of the top reasons for heartburn.

Coffee, tea, and other drinks that contain caffeine can relax the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, thus allowing the stomach juices to flow into the esophagus.  Chocolate contains certain amounts of a substance called theobromine.

This compound is found naturally in many caffeine bearing plants.  The theobromine relaxes the LES muscle and causes the stomach acid to shoot up into the esophagus leading to heartburn.

Fried and fatty foods have a tendency to slow down the digestion process.  This leads to the food being kept in the stomach for a long time. This results in increased pressure to the stomach.  This pressure build-up weakens the LES allowing stomach acid to pass into the esophagus.

Tomatoes and tomato-based products, and alcohol also cause the LES to relax.  These foods lead to an increase in the production of more stomach acid.  This is another heartburn factor.

The tobacco chemicals in cigarettes weaken the LES, as the chemicals pass from the lungs into your blood.

Eating large amounts of food any time of the day puts extra pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter.  Therefore there is a chance that some of this digested food will end up in the esophagus.  This is especially true in the night as having a large dinner just before you go to sleep leads to the digesting food to press harder against your LES.

Drinking and eating lots of citrus fruits and juices also causes the LES to become relaxed. This is another cause of heartburn.

The last cause of heartburn, is clothing that restricts your stomach.  As the clothes press against the stomach walls they force the food up against the LES.

In short, and keeping it nice and simple, the best way to prevent heartburn is to realize that by changing your lifestyle to avoid many of the factors that are the cause of heartburn, you can have a healthy happy life stretching out ahead of you.