The following are the most common causes:
Food allergies: In my practice I have found that a majority of cases of heartburn are caused by food allergies. Food allergies often cause a host of other problems and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.
Foods: certain foods cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, thus leading to heartburn. These include peppermint, coffee, alcohol and chocolate.
Hiatal hernia: This is a physical condition where part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm. It can generally be reduced without surgery, though even when present it is not necessarily the sole cause of heartburn
Low Acid Production: Ironically, low stomach acid levels can result in heartburn. This is much more common than increased acid. This problem can be assessed clinically and is readily treatable.
Medications: Many medications cause heartburn as a side-effect, including, several acid blockers.
- Acid Blockers: Prevacid, Prilosec, Zantac, etc.
- Asthma inhalers (beclamethasone, flovent, etc).
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
- Antianxiety medications, such as diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan).
- Osteoporosis drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax).
Overeating: Of course. The stomach is only so big, even if the eyes and the mouth are bigger.
Pregnancy & Obesity: These are related in that both put pressure on the stomach, decreasing it’s volume and forcing food back from whence it came.
Stress: Stress is a small word with big health consequences. Stress can be the sole cause of heartburn, but often it is exacerbating other causes. Regardless, there are nutrients, herbs and therapies that will help you deal with your stress.
Smoking: Smoking also causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, leading to heartburn. If you experience heartburn please schedule an appointment so that we can sort through the possible causes and provide you with permanent relief. Even heartburn caused by necessary drugs can be treated in a way that is much healthier and more effective than acid blockers.
Need more information? Contact our office directly at Info@IBSTreatmentcenter.com
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.