Most people experience occasional digestive upsets after eating, such as belching, gas pains and heartburn. While these symptoms are not uncommon, they may indicate the presence of a health condition, especially if they occur frequently. Identifying an eliminating certain foods may help minimize some of the triggers that can lead to digestive discomfort.
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Heartburn is another word for acid reflux. This condition causes a burning sensation in your chest, beneath your sternum. Other common symptoms include belching, nausea, sore throat and regurgitating food. When the esophageal sphincter fails to close off the esophagus, food and acids from your stomach can enter the esophagus and irritate the lining, leading to these symptoms. Heartburn occurs most frequently shortly after eating, especially if you bend over or lie down after a large meal. Alcohol, cigarettes and stress may increase your risk of heartburn. Nonprescription medications that contain magnesium hydroxide or calcium carbonate may help neutralize stomach acids.
Although acid reflux can cause burping and belching, intestinal gas and bloating usually occurs after swallowing air. The gas pains may range in intensity from mild to intense. Passing gas may ease the pain and discomfort of intestinal gas. As with heartburn, stress and smoking can play contribute to this condition. Other factors that may play a role include a gastrointestinal disease, infection or blockage, as well as the consumption of certain foods.
Certain foods can increase your risk of digestive discomfort. Fatty foods are a common source of digestive discomfort, due to their slow rate of digestion. Carbohydrate-rich foods can also contribute to your abdominal distress. Common culprits include lettuce, broccoli, pears, peaches, apples, cauliflower, baked beans, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Drinking carbonated beverages, chewing on gum or eating hard candy may also increase your risk of gas pains. If you have lactose intolerance, consuming dairy products may cause bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Contact your doctor if you have recurrent gas pains or if you experience heartburn more than twice each week. Ongoing, frequent heartburn, known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, can damage your esophagus and may cause ulcers or precancerous changes in the cells. An underlying condition, such as celiac disease, may be responsible for your digestive discomfort. Keeping a food diary may help you and your doctor uncover any food allergies that may contribute to gas and chest pains.