Chronic heartburn can be a sign of many things, ranging from heart attack to obesity. Heartburn is inconvenient, uncomfortable and annoying, and it can cause stress both in the sufferer's personal and professional life. The lack of quality sleep, as well as the pain and irritability, are ingredients in a recipe for misery.
Smoking can cause chronic heartburn just as easily as a serious health condition. Smoking damages the membranes of the throat, as well as increases acid production in the stomach---that acid releases into the esophagus, causing severe heartburn.
Women who begin to suffer chronic heartburn may want to invest in a pregnancy test. Because of the new and increasing level of hormones in their body, along with increased pressure from the fetus growing near their stomach, they become far more prone to acid reflux and heartburn than non pregnant women. While the heartburn may certainly start just a few weeks into pregnancy, during the last three months of the pregnancy, heartburn may be nearly unbearable because of the rapid fetal growth.
One of the most common causes of chronic heartburn is the presence of a hiatal hernia. This hernia is simply a case in which a small section of the stomach protrudes above the abdominal diaphragm. As a result of this intrusion, the diaphragm is unable to prevent acid from rising into the throat and causing severe heartburn, especially when lying down.
Medicines, such as aspirin or muscle relaxants, can easily cause heartburn. In the case of muscle relaxers, the decreased muscle tension can cause the diaphragm to be less efficient at keeping stomach acid where it belongs. This allows the acid to protrude out into the esophagus and cause damage to the soft tissue.
Obesity is a significant cause of heartburn. Since obese people tend to produce more stomach acid, it is more apt to end up in their esophagus, especially when lying on their backs or spending time bent over. The potent stomach acid damages the mucous membranes of the esophagus, thus making future occurances even more painful and irritating.