Heartburn is a condition characterized by a burning feeling in the chest and a sour or bitter taste in the mouth. Heartburn usually develops when the acidic contents of the stomach flow back, or regurgitate, into the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. Approximately one in ten adults experience heartburn once a week. Heartburn is more common in pregnant women because of the pressure the expanding uterus exerts on the stomach.
When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter, a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus, relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. When it relaxes at the wrong time, stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus, even though you're in an upright position. The acid backup is worse when you're bent over or lying down.
Some factors that can cause the sphincter to relax abnormally include:
 Fatty foods
 Chocolate, caffeine, onions, spicy foods, mint and some medications
 Large meals
 Lying down soon after eating
 Tranquilizers, such as benzodiazepines including diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax)
 Theophylline (Slo-Bid, Theo-Dur), an asthma medication
 Being overweight
 Hiatal hernias
 Oral contraceptives
 Heart medications
The amount of gastric juice produced by the stomach varies from person to person. People that produce more gastric acid are referred to as ‘hyper secretors’. People that produce less gastric acid are known to be ‘hypo secretors’. Antacids can also be used to help heal duodenal ulcers. These ulcers occur in the upper part of the intestines. They can also be combined with other medications to help treat gastric ulcers and acid reflux.
Heartburn is generally diagnosed with a complete description of the symptoms. In severe cases, a physician may order a barium X ray of the stomach and esophagus to rule out other problems. A physician may also examine the esophagus with an endoscope, an instrument that can view the interior of the digestive tract, and take tissue and fluid samples.
There are several treatments for heartburn. In mild cases, over-the-counter medications such as antacids can ...
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...mg of Simethicone. This helps prevent gas. The inactive ingredients are butylparaben, carboxymethylcellulose sodium, flavor, hydroxypropyl methycellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, propylparaben, purified water, saccharin sodium, and sorbitol.
Mylanta contains all of the same ingredients as Maalox in the same amounts except for that it does not contain saccharin sodium. In a day, no more than 24 teaspoonfuls can be taken.
If you don’t want to take antacids for heartburn, there are lifestyle changes that you can make. Quitting smoking or losing weight can alleviate or prevent heartburn. Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated 6 in helps prevent the stomach's contents from flowing back into the esophagus. Going to bed on an empty stomach, and cutting back on consumption of alcohol, fat, chocolate, and peppermint also can prevent heartburn. Finally, eating smaller and more frequent meals is another way that you can prevent heartburn.
“Digestive System”. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 1999.
“The Stomach”. Student Reference Library. 1997
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