One of the top causes of chest pain in teenagers is heartburn. In fact, nearly 10 percent of teenagers in the United States complain about heartburn. That’s a lot of teenagers!
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn actually has nothing to do with the heart but has everything to do with the digestive tract. Heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning pain in the chest due to acid refluxing up from the stomach into the esophagus. Heartburn can be a problem if it is not addressed because, over time, the reflux of stomach acid damages the lining the esophagus. Long-lasting, untreated heartburn can lead to permanent damage of the esophagus and sometimes even cancer.
What causes Heartburn?
The esophagus transports food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus is separated from the stomach by a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal muscle relaxes and opens to allow food and liquid to enter the stomach and then closes to prevent food and liquid from refluxing back into the esophagus.
Heartburn happen when the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes and opens when it is not supposed to. What causes this?
- fried and fatty foods
- spicy foods
- tomato-based foods-spaghetti sauce and pizza
- high citrus drinks and fruits
- vaping and smoking
How to Treat Heartburn:
Diet and Lifestyle! Unfortunately, many teenagers are indulging in “hot chips”, soda, fatty and fried foods, and munching on very late-night snacks. There are many medications available to help but none of these addresses the root cause of the heartburn.
Address the Root Cause of Heartburn:
- stop vaping and smoking
- say no to alcohol
- avoid all soda, energy drinks, coffee, and caffeinated beverages
- swap fruits, vegetables, and nuts for high fat fried foods
- control your portion size
- drink more water
- stop eating and drinking a full 2 hours before bedtime
- save chocolate eating for very special occasions
Dietary and lifestyle changes are not easy but your teenager is worth the effort!
If your teenager suffers from heartburn or if you would like more information about gastrointestinal (GI) digestive disorders and nutrition in children, please contact Dr. Mona Dave’s Plano Office or Southlake Office.
Click here to learn more about GI Alliance.