Ever chow down at a family picnic, come home, shower, lie down, and feel a
burning pain in your chest and acid crawling up your throat like a red-hot
snake? These are symptoms of the ever-popular heartburn!
Rodger A. Liddle, MD, professor of medicine and gastroenterologist at Duke
University, tells WebMD that many favorite summer foods -- such as tomatoes,
barbeque, cocktails or beer, and citrus -- can make acid reflux worse, although
they don't "cause" this much-dreaded condition.
Not everyone with GERD has heartburn, but the primary symptoms of GERD are heartburn, regurgitation, and nausea.
Heartburn usually is described as a burning pain in the middle of the chest. It may start high in the abdomen or may extend up the neck or back. Sometimes the pain may be sharp or pressure-like, rather than burning. Such pain can mimic heart pain (angina). Typically, heartburn related to GERD is seen more commonly after a meal. Other symptoms of GERD include:
More than 50 million adults experience heartburn more than two days a week.
Half of those get it daily.
Although it has become the staple of commercials and sitcoms, heartburn can
limit activities and productivity. And to those lying there in the dark or
burping through a long afternoon meeting, heartburn is far from a joking
matter. In its most severe forms it can eat away at the esophagus, which can
lead to esophageal cancer.
Better to recognize heartburn and avoid or treat it.
Causes of Heartburn
To digest food, the stomach is flooded with acid. Between the stomach and
the esophagus is a sphincter muscle that lets the food get to the stomach but
then closes to keep the stomach acid from flowing back up the throat. If this
muscle becomes loose or doesn't work properly, the stomach contents can
backflow into the esophagus, making it burn.
Or you can eat foods that are acidic themselves that can irritate tiny areas
of irritation you already have on the walls of your esophagus.
The body tries to counter this not only with the sphincter, explains Liddle,
but with saliva, which is alkaline. But sometimes these mechanisms are overcome
by circumstance. Some factors that make heartburn more likely:
Lying down after eating
Bending over after eating
Wearing tight clothing
Eating trigger foods
Summer Foods That Trigger Heartburn
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, author of Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Acid
Reflux and of a new DVD titled The Heartburn-Friendly Kitchen,
tells WebMD that trigger foods vary from person to person.
"People tend to know," Liddle says. "They will say, 'I get
heartburn every time I eat pizza.'"
Some real culprits that turn up time and time again are:
Fatty meats and deep-fried foods (they stay in the stomach longer, giving
acid more of a chance to wander)
Excessive alcohol consumption (especially red wine)
Tomatoes (salsa, catsup)
Colas and coffee (caffeine and carbonation are both suspect)
Garlic and onions
Some of these weaken the hold of the sphincter and some scratch at
irritation that is already there.
Other foods can bloat your stomach and force the acid back up your throat.
These include carbonated beverages.
A good rule of thumb is not to eat greasy meals and foods that are already
chockfull of acid.