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Constant Heartburn

Constant Heartburn

Constant heartburn can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, where the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to prevent the regurgitation of the stomach content. This causes food and stomach acid to get pushed back to the esophagus, causing pain and irritation.
Chandramita Bora
Pyrosis or heartburn is generally associated with the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux disease. This condition can cause pain and a burning sensation in the chest, just below the breastbone. Sometimes, the pain can radiate from the chest to the neck, throat, and the jaw as well.
Heartburn has nothing to do with the human heart. Rather, it is related to the esophagus, which is a narrow, tube-like structure that connects the mouth and the stomach. This condition is caused when food and stomach acid are pushed back to the esophagus, causing pain and irritation. These symptoms are usually experienced after eating a heavy meal, which is quite normal. But chronic heartburn and indigestion should be taken seriously, as these conditions can cause extensive damage to the esophagus.
Constant Pyrosis Causes
As mentioned already, the esophagus is a tube-like structure that connects the mouth to the stomach. At the junction of the stomach and the esophagus, there is a muscular structure, which is called lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When we consume food, it first enters the esophagus and then reaches the stomach, after which the lower esophageal sphincter closes off the esophagus, and thereby prevents the backward flow of food to the esophagus.
But when this sphincter fails to perform its functions properly, the stomach content, including the stomach acid may flow back to the esophagus and cause irritation. The LES can fail to function normally, either due to the weakness of the esophageal muscles, or an inherent defect in the structure of the sphincter itself.
Apart from these, a number of factors can increase the risk of developing this condition. Such factors include, overeating or eating a very large meal, the consumption of highly acidic and fatty foods, excessive intake of caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages, smoking, and conditions like obesity and pregnancy. Both obesity and pregnancy can put excess pressure on the stomach, which can affect the function of the LES. Sometimes, medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can also trigger an episode of heartburn.
Constant Pyrosis Symptoms
Heartburn is caused when the digestive or gastric acid from the stomach enters the esophagus, which irritates the lining of the esophagus. The stomach has a lining or a coating that protects it from the gastric acid. But the esophagus does not have such protective lining, for which it gets easily irritated and inflamed, when there is a regurgitation of the stomach content.
Therefore, this condition can produce symptoms, like pain or a burning sensation in the chest, just below the breastbone, and an acidic or sour taste in the mouth. The burning sensation can sometimes last for hours, and one can get a feeling of something stuck in the throat. Pyrosis can also be an important cause of chronic cough. Other symptoms of this condition are, hoarseness, a sore throat, and laryngitis.
Constant Pyrosis Treatment
Occasional pyrosis can be managed with a few lifestyle changes, like eating small meals several times a day instead of three large meals, and by identifying and avoiding the foods that trigger acid reflux. The foods that trigger acid reflux can be different for different individuals. But this condition is usually triggered by the consumption of citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato products, fried and fatty foods, chocolates, peppermint, mustard, black pepper, alcohol, coffee, and carbonated beverages. On the other hand, foods like papaya, banana, and almonds can help control the symptoms of this condition.
You can also drink a glass of water on observing the initial symptoms, which can help wash away the stomach acid from the esophagus. If excess body weight is the main reason behind constant heartburn, then consider to lose some weight with appropriate exercises and a healthy diet. However, medical intervention can be required for severe GERD. The medications that are commonly used for this purpose are, antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H-2 receptor antagonists. Sometimes, reglan and gaviscon are also used to treat acid reflux.
If not treated properly, this condition can cause the severe inflammation of the esophagus, and the development of ulcers over a period of time. In extreme cases, this condition may require surgery. Therefore, it is important to find out the underlying causes of heartburn, and address them with the help of your health care provider. This can help prevent the complications associated with the condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.