YOU Magazine - December 2008 - Heartburn! 'Tis the Season
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Lyn Bankowski     Lyn Bankowski
AVP/SR. Mortgage Loan Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
Phone: 360-679-5633 / 360-969-5550
Fax: 360-279-1198
License: NMLS#304060 / CL-157293
Alaska USA Mortgage Company
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'Tis the Season

Heartburn! - 'Tis the Season

While the holidays pose many challenges, one you probably haven't thought about is the potential for experiencing heartburn. But, when you consider some of the behaviors that come along with an unusually stressful schedule, as well as a month-long diversion from "normal" eating, heartburn could be your body's way of telling you it needs a time out.

What is heartburn?
While its effects can feel like a heart attack, heartburn has absolutely nothing to do with the heart. Instead, the answer lies with the muscle that regulates the passing of food between the esophagus and the stomach. Known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), its job is to keep our body's digestive juices contained within the stomach.

In general, the problem occurs when the LES either doesn't close properly, or opens spontaneously for a varying period of time. This results in the stomach's acids flowing backwards and entering into the esophagus. Physicians refer to this as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER or GERD).

Since the esophagus does not have the protective qualities of the stomach, it can become extremely irritated when exposed to these acids. The irritation within the esophagus is what leads to the symptoms such as a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty in swallowing and a burning sensation in the chest and throat area.

Occasional heartburn is not uncommon, but if you are experiencing it more than twice a week, there's a chance you could be suffering from another more serious condition and should consult a physician for diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated (or treated only through self-medication) many of these conditions can become extremely severe.

The triggers
In terms of occasional acid reflux, the triggers depend mainly on the sensitivity of the sufferer. This makes it very important to get in tune with your body. A good place to start is to keep a journal. Whenever you experience heartburn, be sure to write down any food or medication you've consumed, as well as your activities and overall stress level. Doing so may help you avoid future episodes.

The following are some of the more common triggers known to exacerbate heartburn:

  • Highly acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomato products
  • Coffee and tea (non-herbal varieties)
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Foods with a high fat content
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • Foods containing mint
  • Onions
  • Smoking
  • Aspirin and Ibuprofen
  • Certain medications
  • Being overweight
  • Overeating
  • Eating too quickly
  • Bending over or lying down after eating

Preventing heartburn
Now that you know some of the triggers for non-chronic heartburn, preventing its occurrence becomes somewhat easier. Here are a few things you may want to think about:

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight through a healthy diet and workout regimen
  • Eat slower
  • Eat smaller portions of food 4 or 5 times a day, as opposed to 3 large meals
  • Concentrate on high protein, low fat foods and minimize your consumption of foods containing white four
  • Avoid foods known to trigger your heartburn
  • Eat at least 3 hours before going to bed or napping
  • Sleep in a slightly reclined position

Reducing the symptoms
If heartburn does strike, the question becomes what to do about it. While many people resort to over-the-counter antacids, it's important to know that they will only provide short-term relief. In addition, their overuse can cause either diarrhea or constipation due to some of the ingredients found within these products.

Instead, you may want to consider trying one of the more common homeopathic remedies known to neutralize acid and aid digestion:

  • Eat a banana
  • Drink a cup of chamomile tea
  • Eat a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Chew gum or suck on a hard candy (avoid anything with mint)
  • Chew whole fennel seeds
  • Place a hot water bottle over your liver (upper right portion of your abdomen)

When it's serious
One more thing we'd like to put out there is that while heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, it is important to differentiate the symptoms of a heart attack. If the pain you are feeling is accompanied by any of the symptoms below, call your doctor immediately.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness and/or light-headedness
  • Pain radiating into your back, neck, or shoulder
  • Intense sweating
  • Vomiting blood
  • Pain while swallowing

We're hoping that you now have a better understanding of what heartburn is, as well as how to prevent it and treat it. While it is important to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest, it is more important to be smart and above all, to take care of your body.

License AK# 157293 Washington Consumer Loan Company license# CL-157293 California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License# 4131067

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650 NE Midway Blvd., Suite 101
Oak Harbor, WA 98277

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