Question: What Causes Heartburn?

Answer: You may suffer from heartburn after you have eaten a spicy meal or when you eat too much at a family gathering. There is, however, a physical reason for heartburn to occur.
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. This can occur for a number of reasons. The most common cause of heartburn is when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) -- the valve that is located between the esophagus and the stomach and keeps stomach acid in the stomach -- relaxes at the wrong time or too easily. As a result, stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing the symptoms of heartburn. This stomach acid can also damage the lining of the esophagus, which may lead to erosive esophagitis or Barrett's esophagus

Other causes of heartburn are:
·         Certain foods, such as chocolate, fatty foods, peppermint, and carbonated beverages can weaken or relax the LES 
·         Eating large meals or shortly before bedtime 
·         hiatal hernia 
·         Pressure on the stomach, including frequent bending over, tight clothes, lifting, obesity 
·         Certain medications 
·         Smoking 
·         Alcohol 
·         Stress, which can increase acid production and slow down the emptying of the stomach

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