8 Causes of Heartburn You Should Know [Video]

  • In the U.S, about 60 million people get heartburn at least once a month.
  • Wearing tight clothing can trigger heartburn.
  • Obesity is a risk factor for heartburn.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, heartburn affects 60 million Americans at least once a month. Dr. Kristle Lynch, assistant professor of clinical medicine at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says there has been an increasing rate of heartburn cases in the U.S in recent years. One cause of heartburn is obesity because the excess weight increases the gastric pressure that causes the stomach’s contents to flow back up into the esophagus.

When to take heartburn seriously

Heartburn occurs as a burning midline chest pain, or liquid regurgitation (acid reflux), says Dr. Lynch. While it is common, the symptoms can make you really uncomfortable. If over-the-counter medication doesn’t help, Dr. Lynch says it may be something else, or it’s heartburn that’s not responsive to medication. See your doctor if your heartburn comes with choking, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss, as it may be a sign of a heart attack.

Some people who experience heartburn just wait for the pain to subside, with the thought that it’s common to happen after eating. However, Dr. Lynch says acid reflux may damage the esophageal lining and lead to Barrett’s esophagus, in which cells of the esophageal lining develop abnormalities. Dr. Lynch warns that Barrett’s can lead to esophageal cancer.

Here are some heartburn causes you must take seriously:

1. Mint chewing gum

Some research suggests that chewing sugar-free gum post-meal can decrease reflux. However, mint can trigger heartburn for some people because it relaxes the lower esophageal muscle, allowing acid to bubble back up.

2. High-fiber meals

In some cases, a high-fiber meal can trigger heartburn because it is digested more slowly, and one common cause of heartburn is food that stays longer in the digestive tract.

3. Ketchup

Like tomato sauce, tomato juice, and raw tomatoes, ketchup can also cause heartburn. Even small amounts that are eaten with a meal could trigger the condition.

4. Nighttime

Dinner is usually the biggest meal in the U.S., but eating too many can slow digestion. When you lie down for bed, the food and digestive juices move upward, causing heartburn. Because people are more sensitive to pain at night, you’re more aware of the sensation. Dr. Lynch recommends eating smaller meals, finishing your last meal two to three hours before going to bed and using a wedge pillow or risers to keep your upper body’s gravity while you snooze.

5. Too tight clothing

Wearing too-tight clothing, like a bra, compression tights, belt, or your old pants that don’t fit anymore, will put pressure on the stomach and cause stomach acid to flow back up, says Dr. Lynch.

6. Hiatal hernia

Obesity is a primary risk factor to a condition called a hiatal hernia, says Dr. Lynch. It’s a condition in which part of the stomach moves through the opening in the diaphragm into the chest, causing or worsening symptoms, says Dr. Lynch.

Source: The Healthy