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Do not take heartburn lightly
A sharp, burning pain that rises from the upper abdomen towards the throat: almost every third person in this country is familiar with occasional heartburn. However, 35 percent of those affected have such complaints regularly - at least once a week or more often. You suffer from what is known as reflux disease. Most of the symptoms are chronic, i.e. they last for years. It is particularly bad after eating, lying down, bending over, or exercising.
VIDEO: Barrett's syndrome: preventing esophageal cancer (14 min)
Cause of heartburn: stomach acid attacks the esophagus
The esophagus is a tube of muscle that carries food to the stomach. Once there, it is broken down with the help of gastric juices, which contain highly corrosive hydrochloric acid. The stomach lining protects the stomach from the acid. But if chyme gets past the upper gastric sphincter back into the esophagus, then the stomach acid attacks the unprotected wall of the esophagus. That causes the burn. In the long run, the esophagus is damaged by the acid. Inflammation of the gullet (esophagitis) can develop, which, if left untreated, can lead to ulcers and scarring. A possible complication is - in about ten percent of cases - the so-called Barrett's syndrome, in which the tissue of the esophagus changes inflammatory - a precursor for cancer.
Heartburn is often triggered by the stomach making too much acid or emptying too slowly. Lush, sweet, fatty or sour foods, alcohol and beverages containing caffeine all have a negative effect. Another reason for gastric juice reflux is often sphincter weakness. Nicotine can reduce muscle tension, as can certain medications. Hormones can also reduce tension, which is why pregnant women often have a problem with heartburn - in addition, the growing child presses on the stomach. Clothing that is too tight and stress are other factors.
Typical symptoms of heartburn
Severe burning behind the breastbone is the main symptom of reflux disease. Under certain circumstances, you may even get the feeling that you cannot breathe. Because the esophagus is close to the heart, it is not uncommon for those affected to think that the pain originates there - in English, heartburn is therefore also referred to as "heartburn". Reflux sufferers often end up at the doctor's or clinic as an emergency with a suspected heart attack. Chest pain actually always has to be clarified - and until proven otherwise, one has to assume that a heart disease could be behind it. If there is no evidence of this in the examinations, then one should think about the stomach.
Belching, stomach pressure or a feeling of fullness are common side effects. Some people hardly feel heartburn, but suffer from a morning cough or hoarseness or have to clear their throat very often. Difficulty swallowing, swallowing air, and a bad taste in the mouth can also indicate reflux disease.
Diagnosis: reflection and acid measurement
The doctor will ask where exactly the pain is, when it occurs, and inquire about lifestyle and eating habits. If the reflux disease is suspected, he will arrange a reflection of the esophagus and stomach (gastroscopy) in order to examine the esophagus with a tube camera for signs of inflammation, burned areas (erosions), constrictions and tumors. If necessary, he will take tissue samples.
The doctor can also order a long-term acid measurement in the esophagus: With a so-called 24-hour pH-metry, the reflux disease can be diagnosed with certainty. Today, measurements are usually carried out catheter-free, i.e. without having to spend the entire measurement time over a tube.
Prevent heartburn by eating right
A change in eating habits often provides relief. Important for heartburn: it's better to eat four to five small meals instead of two or three large ones. Also eat a lot of protein, for example dairy products, white meat, nuts or legumes. On the other hand, it is better to avoid anything sweet or too greasy. Harmful amounts of sugar can often be found in finished products such as fruit yoghurts, puddings and ice cream - but white flour products such as cakes or white bread rolls are also unfavorable. Cravings for sweets can be dispelled by bitter drops: drizzle on the back of the hand, sniff - the appetite is blown away.
Natural anti-acid agents
A linseed infusion, a "KüKaLeiWa" brew or a camomile roll cure can help to protect the esophagus and gastric mucosa.
A digestive walk is a tried and tested home remedy. Four hours before going to bed, you shouldn't eat anything, and you should like to keep your upper body a little higher when you sleep. Smoking is a significant risk factor and should definitely be stopped. Obese people relieve their stomach when they lose weight. It also makes sense to reduce stress - whether through sport or a differently organized everyday life - and to wear clothes that are as comfortable as possible.
Treat heartburn with medication
If the esophageal mucosa is already inflamed, it may be necessary in individual cases to use prescription drugs to reduce the acid content in the reflux. Acid inhibitors, so-called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), are used for this. Over-the-counter drugs from pharmacies either bind gastric acid (antacids) or hinder the production of new gastric acid (H2 receptor antagonists). However, due to their not inconsiderable side effects, all of these drugs are only suitable for temporary relief.
Diet for heartburn
A lot of protein, little sweets, rather small meals instead of two or three large ones - that protects the stomach and esophagus. Also important: eat dinner early before lying down. more
High in protein and not too fat: These dishes are healthy for heartburn and esophagitis - and they are also tasty and quick to make! more
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The Nutritional Docs | 02/17/2020 | 9:00 p.m.
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