The gastric acid of humans helps to digest food and eliminate germs from the diet. It is surrounded by a stomach wall, which prevents the gastric acid digesting the body's own tissue of the stomach. A tough mucus protects the stomach from the digestive juice. However, too much stomach acid can cause heartburn.
Heartburn as a common problem
In industrialized countries, a large proportion of the population suffers from heartburn. Every tenth adult is affected daily and every third person is occasionally affected. In Germany, about ten million people are affected by this disease.
English and American physicians speak of "heartburn" - heartburn - although the heart is actually not involved. This terminology is due to the fact that it comes through the pathological reflux of acidic gastric contents (gastroesophageal reflux) into the esophagus (esophagus) to a burning heat in the chest.
Spicy foods hurt a lot
Heartburn is caused, among other things, by foods which are difficult to digest or spicy, as these foods increase the pressure in the stomach. The increased pressure in the stomach causes part of the gastric contents to run into the esophagus, and the excess of stomach acid above the epigastrium causes a burning pain.
One possible cause of this may be that the appetite for hunger triumphs and one eats more than the stomach can tolerate. People who are overweight are particularly prone to heartburn: 70% of patients with heartburn are too fat at the same time. Certain foods, such as chocolate, citrus fruits, alcohol, as well as heavy and fatty foods can cause or worsen heartburn. Food that is acidic should be avoided accordingly.
Occasional heartburn "sins" are not cause for concern, but chronic heartburn can cause serious and lasting health problems.
Corrosive to the esophagus
The gastric juice washes away the delicate esophageal mucosa, causing superficial defects as well as deeper ulcers. In severe cases, internal bleeding or narrowing of the esophagus may occur. This constriction manifests itself in difficulty swallowing or interrupting, which makes it absolutely necessary to go to the doctor.
Also, those who suffer from nausea and pain in the ribs area should consult a doctor as soon as possible, because untreated illnesses caused by heartburn can cause chronic coughing or asthma.
In the long term there is even the danger that the mucosal cells in the esophagus degenerate and develop cancer. Therefore, it is important to correct the causes in time and to bandage possible consequential damages.
Tips against heartburn
- When eating, pay attention to small portions several times a day.
- Do not lie down to sleep immediately after a meal.
- Possibly medications (eg proton pump inhibitors) that neutralize the stomach acid can help you.