5 Unexpected Causes of Heartburn

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Medication

What you put into your body changes the way it acts (or reacts). And while medication is taken to help with a particular physical or mental issue, sometimes it creates additional problems in the form of side effects.

Admittedly, heartburn (also known as acid reflux) as a side effect is a far cry from the pain and discomfort of some conditions these medications are used for. But if you already have issues with heartburn, you may want to look for alternative drugs that don't compound your problems, if possible. 

The particular issue with many types of medications that cause acid reflux is their effect on the esophageal sphincter. For example, extremely strong painkillers make the whole body feel relaxed. Unfortunately, this includes the sphincter muscle—when it doesn’t stay firmly contracted, stomach acid can sneak back up the esophagus. Other medications that tend to cause a relaxed sphincter include sedatives, theophylline, Parkinson’s disease drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, some blood pressure medicines, certain heart disease medications, hormone replacement drugs, and even some nutritional supplements, like potassium. 

In other cases, medication may cause heartburn by actually damaging the lining of the esophagus. Chemotherapy treatments for cancer and biphosphates used for osteoporosis are among this type of drug. Aside from using normal heartburn treatments, taking biphosphates with a full glass of water and staying upright for about an hour can help minimize discomfort.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatorie drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, are perhaps the most unexpected medication that causes heartburn. While generally seen as harmless, they, too, can damage the esophagus. Additionally, they may create more gastrointestinal issues, such as stomach ulcers and gastritis, both of which can make heartburn worse. While occasional usage of NSAIDs probably won't cause problems, regular use may eventually become a significant issue.

Did you know...

  • Are you currently or often tired? As contradictory as it may sound, one of the best things you can do is exercise! It gives you more energy by improving your blood flow and increasing your oxygen throughout your body. You don't need to do much; a brisk walk is all it takes!
  • Need a quick cool down? Try drinking some hot liquid. It's true! As counterintuitive as it may seem, the heat from hot liquids will raise your body temperature. This will heat you up and cause you to sweat. The increased perspiration will wind up helping you feel cooler as it evaporates. Try it out!
  • A hearty laugh is good for the heart. Laughing can increase blood flow by 20%. Additionally, looking on the bright side can help you live longer. Studies have shown that a more optimistic outlook is linked to a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk for coronary artery disease.
  • Just saying the words "thank you" can measurably improve your mood. Researchers can actually measure happiness and changes in brain structure when people practiced regular "grateful thinking." This included things like writing thank you notes, writing gratitude journal entries, mindfully counting their blessings, and thanking friends. It may be helpful in overcoming depression!
  • Do you know what the strongest muscle in your body is? No, it’s not your biceps or your thighs. It’s actually in your head. The masseter is a muscle in the jaw that is used when chewing. When all of the muscles of the jaw work together, they can exert a force as strong as 200 pounds on the molars. That’s some serious pressure.