How Heartburn Happens

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Possible Causes of Heartburn
What causes heartburn?
The human stomach contains acid that is present to digest food. Heartburn occurs when small amounts of this acid rises up into the esophagus, and this action is referred to as acid reflux.
Acid is kept in the stomach by a barrier at the bottom of the gullet, which is created by a muscle contraction. When this action does not work properly, reflux occurs.
The stomach has a protective lining against this acid, but the gullet does not. Consequently, when the gullet is exposed to this acid, it can become inflamed and painful.
Some known factors that can lead to heartburn include:
eating large meals, especially near bedtime
being overweight
bending a lot
wearing tight clothing on/around the stomach
How can I avoid heartburn?
If you smoke, stop
Avoid becoming overweight, which consists of eating healthier and regular exercise
Watch your diet, because certain foods cause heartburn in certain people
Avoid overeating by chewing well and eating slowly.
Avoid large meals around bedtime, and get good nights of sleep
Watch your posture when eating, because good posture equals efficient digestion
Avoid tight clothing that puts pressure on the stomach
LifeART Collection Images Copyright © 1989-2001 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD
Two part illustration of cross-section of area where esophagus meets stomach showing possible causes of heartburn
sphincter prevents reflux

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