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Unusual Causes of Heartburn

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Unusual Causes of Heartburn

By Allison Ford, DivineCaroline

For those who have never experienced it before, it’s enough to make you think that a fiery death is imminent. That painful burning in your chest, just behind your sternum, is heartburn, and although the occasional bout of it isn’t going to drive you to an early grave, it might remind you to lay off the Mexican food so close to bedtime.

Heartburn is caused when acid from the stomach splashes back into the esophagus because of a malfunctioning valve called the esophageal sphincter. For some people, heartburn is a major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, a chronic disorder. Many people, however, have only occasional episodes of heartburn. To combat it, conventional wisdom dictates that you should cut out spicy foods, avoid eating close to bedtime, watch your intake of citrus and alcohol, and prop up the head of your bed so that gravity keeps the acid down. These are all good tips, assuming one of the conventional triggers is causing your heartburn. But like many conditions, not all heartburn stems from common causes.

Meddling Medications
Taking certain drugs puts some people at risk of heartburn, even if their dietary habits and lifestyle wouldn’t otherwise cause it. Medications to treat heart disease and high blood pressure can relax the muscles in the chest–including the esophageal sphincter–and cause it to become lazy, at which point it allows acid to splash out of the stomach. Oral asthma medications have a similarly relaxing effect. Drugs that fight osteoporosis are well known for causing acid reflux, so much so that they usually come with a warning that women taking them should not lie down immediately afterward. These drugs can increase acid production, as well as damage the lining of the esophagus. It’s also important to limit citrus intake when taking these medications, since citrus is a known trigger of heartburn.

Even nonprescription NSAID pain relievers have been associated with heartburn. People who regularly take these pills for arthritis, headaches, heart disease, or chronic pain are more susceptible to heartburn, as well as to other gastrointestinal problems. Taking the occasional aspirin or ibuprofen doesn’t usually raise a person’s risk, but it can happen. Other drugs that have been linked to heartburn include those used to treat cancer, Parkinson’s disease, muscle spasms, and anxiety.

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9:51AM PDT on Jun 15, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

11:32PM PDT on Jun 11, 2013

Thank you :)

1:07AM PST on Dec 21, 2012

All good. Thanks.

7:55AM PDT on May 27, 2010

For 5 years I have had an occasional 'heart attack' symptom. Center of chest and even jaw involvement. EKG's and even a catheterisation sho0wed no heart problem. Latest diagnosis is Esophageal spasms. Your information will be useful and I'll watch out to see if it is after unusual exercise. Thanks!l

11:30AM PST on Jan 29, 2010

Very good advice, some I wasn't aware of previously. Thank you!

1:51AM PST on Jan 19, 2010

Noted, thank you.

1:51AM PST on Jan 19, 2010

Noted, thank you.

7:47PM PST on Jan 9, 2010


12:35AM PST on Jan 5, 2010

I've only had heartburn a few times in my life(THANKFULLY! Because I REALLY thought I was havin a heart attack! very painful). A friend taught me a trick for instant relief is a tablespoon of warm water and baking powder, Works in less than a minute. And yes, it always seemed to follow a strenous workout.

10:54AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

It is a paradox. One would think gravity would pull it down. Then it appears the esophagus is rebelling against gravity. I know a therapist who suggests loving the problem organ, talking nice to it saying sorry for having mistreated and thanking it for all the help it is to the system and moving food.

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