Sometimes, after you have had a large meal, you experience a burning pain within your chest. This pain can be felt just behind your breastbone. What you are experiencing is heartburn. Heartburn is not a condition regarding your heart. Rather it is a digestive disorder. Heartburn occurs when stomach acids flow upwards into the esophagus, and is also called gastric reflux.
Heartburn or gastric reflux is due to the back flow or reflux of food juices and stomach acids passing into the esophagus. The esophagus is a tube within our body that connects our throats to the stomach. The esophagus is separated from the stomach by a valve which is called the lower esophageal sphincter. Generally the lower esophageal sphincter remains tightly closed after we have eaten, but for a few people the valve becomes weak or it malfunctions.
Thus when the lower esophageal sphincter or LES does not work properly then sometimes the digested food acids reflux into the esophagus. These stomach acids are very corrosive and the esophagus is unable to deal with their effects on the delicate lining of the esophagus. The corrosive acids can irritate and inflame the walls of the esophagus. This inflammation is called gastric reflux.
Gastric reflux can be a result of our lifestyles as well as how we eat. Sometimes eating large amounts of food especially in the night can trigger a heartburn attack. Being overweight, bending at the waist, lifting heavy objects, being in stressful situations as well as being pregnant can all induce gastric reflux.
Then there are foods that we love to eat, they might have substances in them that can cause the acid levels in our stomach to increase. These foods include oranges, tomatoes and colas. Also drinking beverages like coffee, tea, alcohol and fortified wines and spirits can relax the LES valve and cause the stomach acids to rise and reflux into the esophagus.
Many of us experience gastric reflux without our even realizing it. Usually gastric reflux can be reduced by swallowing your saliva repeatedly.
Gastric reflux if it is not checked and treated can develop into a more severe form. Chronic gastric reflux can have complications leading to the inflammation of the esophagus. There could also be an increased risk of esophageal cancer, anaemia and also esophageal ulcers
As with all heartburn aliments you should consult with your doctor and treat your gastric reflux. You can ask what over the counter drugs will work for your gastric reflux or if you will need prescription strength medication. Your doctor will be able to advise you what you should do at home to correct this condition.
Should your gastric reflux be of a more serious condition, then your doctor will be able to let you know what are the medical therapies and medical treatments that are available for you. Catching and treating the symptoms of gastric reflux early on, can avoid it becoming GERD.