As a pregnant woman with about 10 days to my due date, I have forged a new relationship with heartburn that I never expected to have. Every night, as I lay down and attempt to fall asleep, I am kept awake by a deep, throbbing burning in my chest. No, I am not heartbroken, merely heartburn-ed.
Heartburn is medically defined by WebMD.com as the symptom you feel when acid splashes up and out of the stomach. “Heartburn” is sometimes used interchangeably with “acid reflux.” (1) WebMD.com also says that heartburn can be triggered by big meals, exercise, and some types of medication. So, now that we have the medical view of heartburn, let’s take a look into the everyday triggers of heartburn.
For me, it seems that everything I eat triggers heartburn. It seems as though the only way i can fall asleep at night is to drink a glass of milk as soon as I feel heartburn coming on. However, heartburn is very common for me, but I decided to look into some more surprising heartburn triggers for people who are not pregnant.
According to Health.com, Smoking weakens the valve between the stomach and esophagus, so stomach acid splashes back up into the esophagus, and it cuts down on saliva, which normally flushes stomach acid out of the esophagus.(2)
Again, Health.com says that a person’s perception of the stress level in their life influences exactly how aware a person is of their heartburn symptoms, making it seem much worse than it truly could be.(2)
Health.com throws peppermint into the ring of triggers, saying that the menthol in peppermint oftentimes relaxes the valve between the stomach and esophagus, making it possible for stomach acid to splash back up into the esophagus. Perhaps it’s time to rethink that peppermint toothpaste, eh? (2)
Time to blame good ol’ Mom and Dad! According to Health.com, (2) 30-45% of your risk for heartburn comes from your genes. While its not entirely sure why it is hereditary, many people say it could be just a sensitive stomach, or other abnormalities.
This one comes from my own family. After taking antacids for years, my brother finally figured out something that the doctors could not. He was lactose-intolerant. A simple switch from milk to a product like Lactaid almost completely rid him of heartburn.
The way I look at it, I have roughly (and hopefully) 10 more days to suffer through what seems to be the worst heartburn in the world. And, after researching a little bit, I know exactly what to avoid to keep my new worst enemy from returning.
1- “Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and GERD.” http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/heartburn-gerd-basic-information-causes
2- “Surprising Heartburn Triggers.” http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307301_8,00.html