Causes of Heartburn
Certain foods can increase your likelihood of developing heartburn or make your symptoms worse. These include:
- Fatty foods
- Tomato products
- Caffeinated or carbonated drinks
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Certain spices.
Some foods cause your lower esophageal sphincter to become weaker, and some cause your stomach to make more acid than usual. Both of these problems can increase acid reflux. Other foods can further irritate the lining of the esophagus after it's been damaged by reflux.
When and how much you eat can also contribute to heartburn. If your lower esophageal sphincter isn't working properly and you eat large meals, the level of food and acid in your stomach may be high enough for juices to back up into your esophagus. Finally, eating too close to bedtime and then lying down can make your symptoms worse.
Taking certain medications can increase your likelihood of developing heartburn or cause your symptoms to get worse. These medications include:
- Certain birth control pills
- Tricyclic antidepressants used to treat depression
- Anticholinergic drugs used for treating a number of different conditions
- Calcium channel blockers used for treating high blood pressure, chest pain, or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia).
Calcium channel blockers and the hormones in birth control pills can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter and allow it to open when it should be closed. Tricyclic antidepressants and anticholinergic drugs can reduce saliva production and slow down digestion, making the stomach empty slower. All of these effects make it more likely for acid reflux to happen and for heartburn symptoms to develop or become worse.