The most important thing you should know about heartburn is that, it has nothing to the heart. It is an irritation caused by the stomach acid. Because it may irritate esophagus, a person may feel burning below the breastbone or in the upper abdomen. Some of the symptoms are similar to those of the heart disease and heart attack.
Normally, LES (lower esophageal sphincter), or simply said a muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus keeps stomach acid inside. It is located below the rib cage. When a person eats or drinks water, the LES opens and allow food to go into the stomach. The heartburn occurs when it stays open for too long or does not close properly, so a stomach acid can get into the esophagus. In many cases, a person experiences occasional heartburn, that isn’t dangerous. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or chronic heartburn can cause problems. If a person has heartburns often and they last long, visiting a doctor is needed.
Heartburn is common in pregnant women. In most cases, the too much food in the stomach or pressure on it may cause heartburn. This pressure usually happens as the result of pregnancy or obesity. Certain medications and food rich in oil and fats often cause heartburn. Also, food like garlic, onions, tomatoes, alcohol, coffee and peppermint relax the LES. One of the main contributors is smoking, that stimulates stomach acid and relaxes the LES. Lack of sleep and stress also may increase the production of the stomach acid. The best way to prevent heartburn is to avoid all mentioned things that increase the risk of it. If it happens often, there are certain medications that should reduce the amount of stomach acid.