Constant heartburn? Know what it can be and how to treat the problem

One of the most common symptoms among Brazilians, heartburn is simple to treat, but it causes a lot of discomfort. The presence of a constant burning sensation can be the result of a series of conditions ranging from reflux and gastritis to poor nutrition, nervousness or wearing very tight clothing.

It is important, however, to identify the causes of heartburn to prevent the symptom from developing into a more serious problem. If other signs appear, such as swelling, abdominal discomfort, coughing up blood and chest pain, the indication is to seek a gastroenterologist.

Regardless of the cause, constant heartburn is treated with antacids to decrease stomach acid and change eating habits. Only in rare cases is surgery indicated to resolve the problem.

See the causes that justify the burning:

1. Reflux

In gastroesophageal reflux, there is an involuntary return of the contents that are in the stomach to the esophagus, causing intense discomfort, since the contents are very acidic.

The most common symptom of this condition is heartburn, in addition to intense pain in the chest region, similar to the pain of a heart attack or angina, dry cough and even respiratory problems such as asthma and pneumonia.

What to do: some simple measures can be taken to alleviate discomfort, such as avoiding going to bed right after eating, sleeping with the headboard elevated, as well as being careful with eating, avoiding the consumption of coffee, alcohol, fatty foods and acidic drinks, for example.

2. Hiatal hernia

A hiatus hernia is a problem that facilitates reflux and is therefore one of the main causes of constant heartburn. The condition is usually more common in people who are overweight, who smoke, or who exercise excessively.

Symptoms are mild and very similar to reflux, including indigestion, especially when the person lies down after eating, and worsen when the patient bends over, strains, or lifts heavy objects.

What to do: it is advised to eat slowly and more times a day, avoid heavy meals at least two hours before going to sleep, lie down with the head of the bed elevated, avoid fatty and acidic foods, alcohol, cigarettes. In cases of overweight or obesity, weight loss is advised.

3. Gastritis

Irritation or inflammation occurs in the stomach and is caused by infections, stress, allergies, use of certain medications, and changes in the immune system. Symptoms depend on the type of gastritis and can be abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea and vomiting, indigestion and feeling full even after a small meal.

What to do: it is recommended to reduce the consumption of foods that increase the acidity in the stomach, such as spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, fatty foods or pure milk. It is also important to avoid fasting for a long time, as in these cases there is a greater accumulation of gastric acid in the stomach, which worsens the inflammation. The use of medication that decreases the production of gastric juice, such as antacid, for example, is also indicated.

4. Esophagitis

Esophagitis is an inflammation that occurs in the esophagus and is mainly due to reflux, but it can also be the result of an allergic reaction. The symptoms are very similar to those of gastritis, but there can also be difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, and a feeling that the food eaten is stuck in the throat, not making its way to the stomach as it should.

What to do: the use of steroid medications will help to coat the esophagus and control inflammation. Therefore, if esophagitis is suspected, a gastroenterologist should be consulted. Some dietary adjustments should also be made, such as eliminating foods with wheat flour, milk and dairy products, seafood, nuts, eggs and soy, helping to alleviate and prevent reflux symptoms. In addition, it is necessary to identify the type of food that caused the allergy and remove it completely from the diet.

5. Pregnancy

In pregnant women, heartburn can be present from the beginning of pregnancy because of hormonal changes and also because of the growth of the belly. With the increased production of the hormone progesterone, the stomach muscles also relax, causing the acids to move up into the esophagus and cause the sensation of constant heartburn.

What to do: It is recommended to eat more often, eat smaller portions more times a day, avoid drinking liquids during meals, not lie down immediately after eating, and wear comfortable clothing.

6. Food intolerance

Food intolerance is a difficulty that the body has to digest certain ingested foods, such as lactose or gluten intolerance. Digestion is slower because the body no longer has as many enzymes responsible for degrading certain nutrients, so there is an accumulation in the stomach causing gastric discomfort.

It is also very common in people who have food intolerance symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain, excessive tiredness, itching or blemishes on the skin.

What to do: It is important to identify the type of food that is causing the intolerance. For this, a food diary can be made, which records everything that was eaten and what symptoms appeared throughout the day. Once the food has been identified, it is important to cut it off completely. Another way to treat the problem is the use of drugs with enzymes that help with digestion.

7. Wearing tight clothes

Wearing uncomfortable, tight clothing can cause the stomach to tighten, allowing stomach acids to rise into the esophagus, causing reflux and heartburn.

What to do: it is interesting to opt for the use of light and comfortable clothes, which do not put too much pressure on the belly region.

With information from the Tua Saúde portal