Heartburn refers to a burning sensation behind your breast bone—in your
chest. Heartburn is usually worse when the person is bending over or lying down.
Heartburn is often a common condition experienced by many people and is thus not something to be alarmed about. Certain lifestyle changes and self-help treatment will be enough to alleviate heartburn.
However, recurrent spells of heartburn just might be a red flag to another underlying condition making it a serious situation that requires medical treatment.
A person suffers from heartburn when his stomach acid rises to his esophagus. When you swallow something, the esophagus sphincter relaxes to facilitate the flow of food or liquids to your stomach, after which it closes again.
However, sometimes the lower esophagus sphincter becomes weaker or relaxes abnormally resulting in the back flow of stomach acid and thus, heartburn.
- A burning feeling in the chest—often after eating or at night
- The pain exacerbates while bending over or lying down
When to seek medical attention
You will have to seek immediate medical assistance if you are suffering from severe chest pain—significantly when accompanied by other conditions such as breathing difficulties and arm or jaw pain. It is important to note that chest pain is the first sign of heart attack. For more information about severe circulatory emergencies such as heart attacks, angina and strokes enrol in workplace approved first aid training.
Visit your doctor if the following conditions take place:
- Heartburn that takes place more than 2 times a week
- Difficulties in swallowing
- Symptoms remain persistent and do not respond to over-the-counter treatments
It is important that you treat your heartburn as quickly as possible to minimize discomfort and pain:
- Drink 1-2 glasses of water. This will force the acid to flow downwards to your stomach. Additionally, it also dilutes the stomach acid making it less harmful.
- Take antacids. Antacids mix with water to make bases which neutralize acids. The result is the production of salt and water—which is harmless. Antacids should be taken orally—chew them or dissolve the antacids in water.
- Baking soda. Baking soda is also an alkali; therefore, if antacids are not available, baking soda should be able to do the trick. Mix a tall glass of water with a spoonful of baking soda to create a base that would neutralize the acid. Make sure you do not drink too much.
- Maintain your posture. Bending over or lying down worsens pain, therefore make sure you position your esophagus/neck directly above the stomach—simply stand upright.
- Do not eat anything if you are suffering from a heartburn. If you have to eat, eat something with no fat/grease and also make sure you avoid soft drinks and acidic fruits such as oranges, limes and grapefruit.
Related Video on Treating Heart Burn