Knowing How to Stop Heartburn

Heartburn is a terribly painful affliction. Almost everyone knows the discomfort of occasional heartburn. If it happens more than occasionally for you, you might want to learn how to stop heartburn. While the cause of heartburn, acid in the esophagus, is the same for everyone, the way the acid gets there varies from person to person.

The esophagus is the tube that carries your food from your mouth to your stomach where it is digested with the help of gastric acid. The doorway between the stomach and the esophagus is a sphincter that opens to allow food in and closes to keep acid in. There is a flap to assist in confining the acid. The possible reasons that your sphincter is having a problem containing the acid are many. Until you pin down the reasons, you won't know how to stop heartburn.

Sphincter Muscles

When the muscles of the sphincter close, pressure builds in the esophagus. There is less pressure in the stomach which makes it quite difficult for the acid to splash up through the sphincter. The time when it is easier is when the sphincter is either open or when the muscles relax. Obviously, the sphincter is open when you are swallowing food. If you have the habit of literally eating on the run, you may have a persistent problem with heartburn. Another way to learn how to stop heartburn is by sitting still and carefully chewing and swallowing.

The sphincter also opens when pressure builds up in the stomach. This happens when the stomach can't empty fast enough to keep up with food intake. In other words, you may be eating too much. When that happens, the sphincter opens to let out extra air and make more space. The polite word for this is "belching." When the air comes out, a little acid rides along. Some air is no problem, but a lot of air means enough acid to cause at least mild heartburn. Eat slowly, don't swallow a lot of air and don't eat too much at one time is how to stop heartburn if this is your problem.

Some problems with the sphincter muscle might be beyond your control. A too full stomach isn't always due to overeating. Some stomachs take longer than average to empty. This situation is common for those with diabetes. Asthma sufferers may take medicine to relax the muscles of the esophagus to allow better air flow. This type of medication can also relax the muscles of the esophageal sphincter allowing better acid flow.

Even if the muscles don't relax enough to open the sphincter wide, the pressure can equalize making a tight waistband enough to cause acid reflux. For anyone with frequent heartburn seeing a doctor is the best way to learn how to stop heartburn.