What Causes Heartburn?
Heartburn, despite its name, is not an affliction of the actual heart. Rather, heartburn is primarily a disorder of the esophagus, which is located near the heart but is part of the digestive system. The esophagus carries food from your mouth to your stomach, and there is a muscle at the bottom, called the lower esophageal sphincter, that opens to allow food and drink into the stomach and then closes when you are done swallowing. Heartburn occurs when this muscle is weakened, which allows stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. This reflux of stomach acid causes the burning sensation of heartburn.
Heartburn can be caused or aggravated by a number of lifestyle factors, including:
Obesity A body mass index (BMI) over 25 can increase the chances of chronic heartburn
Certain Foods Common heartburn triggers include red wine, chocolate, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, tomatoes, spicy foods, and carbonated beverages
Smoking can damage the tissues around the esophagus and impair esophageal muscle function
Hiatal Hernia A hiatal hernia is a type of hernia that allows abdominal contents to push through the diaphragm