I never knew my enjoyment of certain foods would come at a price, laments Simon Kuloba, a 36 year old Car Mechanic plying his trade in Mbale’s boisterous industrial area. “Soon after eating some foods, i experience pain, discomfort and an acidy feeling around my chest and upper abdomen. my productivity has steadily been going down. While many may dismiss it as a minor condition or more than just another uncomfortable inconvenience, Physician Steve Wantenyeli of Mukhuwa Health center, Mbale says heartburn acid reflux should not be treated lightly especially when it occurs frequently.
“Heartburn is a serious condition that should not be ignored. it affects 2 out of every 25 people in Uganda, at a rate of at least twice a week. digestive acids or bile in the stomach trigger heartburn by making contact with the lining of the esophagus.”
These digestive acids, Wantenyeli points out, are meant to stay in the stomach and not to go flow back to the esophagus.
“When digestive acids frequently go back to the esophagus, the delicate lining of the esophagus is slowly destroyed”.
Heartburn as a condition has nothing to do with the heart, Wantenyeli asserts. “It’s in effect a digestive problem that can lead to a more serious condition called barrett’s esophagus or cancer of the esophagus if a physician is not consulted.”
He adds that if heartburn is temporary, it can dealt with some simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
Dietian Omoding Samuel of Namakwekwe health clinic, Mbale stresses that if heartburn becomes chronic, it can lead to gastro esophageal reflux disease, disease he says occurs when acids from the stomach literally burn the esophagus(tube running from the throat to the stomach).
Heartburn occurs when people consume or partake on foods that are acid forming such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, fried and fatty foods, caffeine and garlic. Omoding states. “when highly acidic gastric juices from the stomach spurt up through one’s esophagus, irritation normally occurs,resulting in a pain (heartburn).”
Over eating, Omoding says is also one of the major causes of heart burn. “When one over eats, the stomach takes longer to digest the food resulting in stomach acid returning back up to the esophagus. This spawns an acidic reflux or heartburn”.
Some foods trigger heartburn more than others.
“If you partake on too much fast food, chocolate, consume to many fizzy drinks and combine these with either smoking or drinking alcohol, you increase your risk of developing heartburn” states omoding
Certain gastrointestinal disorders aggravate or make heartburn worse. physician Steve Wantenyeli says heartburn can be triggered off by a hiatal hernia which is where the stomach protrudes a little into the chest through the diaphragm.
Dietian Omoding says factors such as age, lifestyle, family history and other medical conditions determine the severity of heartburn in most people.
In most cases however, many people experience the same symptoms as enumerated below.
• Pain caused by heartburn, Omoding says will be at varying levels. anywhere from your stomach upward, but most commonly in the throat.
This sporadic pain Omoding says can come and go or be constant, or be degenerate.
Where severe heartburn is experienced, the pain experienced by some people can be unbearable.
• A burning sensation caused by acids coming back up into the esophagus.
Omoding says the burning sensation comes in the form of a burp that gives a burning feeling.
• Heart burn Omoding says can make the throat become painfully sore with a burning sensation due to the constant aggravation of the stomach acids.
HEART BURN RELIEF TIPS
To steer clear of heartburn, Wantenyeli says, eat more frequently but in smaller portions. Overeating he says triggers heartburn. “try eating six smaller meals throughout the day. eating smaller portions enables your body to digest food more easily”.
To forestall heartburn, meals close to bed time should be avoided. Having one’s last meal about two to three hours before going to bed is important in stemming a heartburn tide, Wantenyeli adds.
Carrying excess weight around your middle section spells pressure on your stomach especially after eating.
This pressure, Wantenyeli says can eventually lead to or aggravate one’s heartburn condition.
Fried, greasy and fatty foods are foods one should stay away from as they cause or exacerbate heartburn.
Fats, Wantenyeli says weaken the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. As a consequence, stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus. This, at length, causes heartburn.
Over the counter acid reflux antacids can also be effective in alleviating heartburn.
“Antacid tablets like ranitidine, cimetidine, famotidine, and omeprazole magnesium are not only a good economical choice but therapeutic as well. if they are taken before bedtime, they come in handy in subduing heartburn. Wantenyeli stresses.
If you’re a smoker/drinker and suffer from heartburn more often, break your habit or cut down on alcohol or nicotine considerably.
Nicotine from cigarette smoke, Wantenyeli adds tends to irritate the lower oesophageal sphincter, which is a valve that stops stomach acids from rising up and irritating the esophagus.
Invariably keeping your head up, especially when eating, drinking or sleeping, can help subdue heartburn. Dietian Omoding Samuel says lying down 1 to 3 hours after eating and drinking increases the likelihood of heartburn occurring.
Another good remedy for that nagging heartburn can be got from your kitchen cabinet in the form of a tablespoon of both honey and apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water. Omoding says a few common kitchen spices like cinnamon, ginger or sage tea, as well as cardamom in baked goods or cereal, can aid with chronic heartburn.
Heartburn, Omoding asserts can also be cooled off with stomach soothing drinks like papaya, guava, pear, or mango juice. “aside of that, a cold glass of buttermilk and foods such as blanched almonds, brown rice, soda crackers, and apples can be helpful. regular intake of milk however should be avoided especially if one suffers from lactose intolerance.”
Try as much as possible to avoid carbonated drinks such as energy drinks or juices, soda coffee, wine, etc. Omoding says carbonated drinks contain phosphoric acid, which in the course of time,causes burping. burping he says sends stomach acid to the esophagus, possibly forming cancerous lesions. This reflex eventually causes heartburn.
Chewing gum especially that without peppermint and spearmint, Omoding says is another effective way of subduing heartburn acid reflux.
Chewing gum he adds contains baking soda which is a natural heartburn remedy
“Chewing gum for about half an hour, after a meal produces saliva that counteracts stomach acids. this prevents heartburn”.