5 Unexpected Causes of Heartburn



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...

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