Heartburn is a searing burning sensation felt in the lower part of the chest just beneath the breast bone and is frequently associated with regurgitating small quantity of sour acid fluid.
This symptom may occur normally in many women, especially those suffering from gastric and duodenal ulcer, but it is common during pregnancy and does not indicate any ulceration of either the stomach or the duodenum, or anything to do with the heart or the lungs. During pregnancy the effect of progesterone relaxes the valve at the upper end of the stomach , which allows regurgitation of the normal acid content of the stomach into the lower end of the oesophagus or food pipe ,which leads from the mouth to the stomach. This tube is not normally resistant to acid and constant regurgitations of acid causes severe inflammation in its lower ends and further regurgitation of acid upon this inflamed area results in the sensation of heartburn.
The enlarging uterus also tends to push against the stomach which tends to cause further regurgitation. In order to try and relieve this burning sensation some people swallow air and then belch it up again. This only makes the symptoms worse, because the air still brings up more acids with it which further irritates the oesophagus.
Towards the end of pregnancy, if there is excessive pressure applied to the lower ribs, heartburn may become very severe. This is noticeable in women who suffer from an excessive quantity of fluid, have a multiple pregnancy or women who have breech presentation. Swallowing large quantities of strong alkaline mixture to correct the gastric acidity will, however, only relieve the symptoms for a short while and in the end succeeds in making them worse because the stomach reacts to administration of alkali by producing even more acid.
The correct treatment is to take a small quantity of alkali to neutralize the contents of the stomach and then suck an alkali tablet so that there is a constant stream of dilute alkali passing down the oesophagus. This will immediately neutralize any regurgitation of gastric contents and thus give the oesophagus time to heal. Once the inflammation has subsided the heartburn will cease.
There are so many drugs out there for treating heartburn . Milk of magnesium is also very effective in relieving heartburn. Spicy foods should be avoided and small meals should be taken. Eating of large meals just before going to bed should be especially avoided. A simple remedy to reduce heartburn while you are lying in bed at night is to raise the head of the bed, or to sleep with three to our pillows at the back of your head instead of the usual one or two, this prevents slow regurgitation of gastric fluids during the night and will frequently relieve the nocturnal heartburn.
It is generally advisable to avoid any activity or position that tends to curse heartburn like lying with the head down, or lying