Here’s some disappointing news from the American College of Gastroenterology: 15 million people experience heartburn, or acid indigestion, every day. The condition affects up to 60 million Americans every month, or almost one in every five of us.
That seems like an awfully large percentage of the population, which leads to the concern that it’s another symptom of our resistance to a healthy diet and some regular exercise.
A report in The Washington Post about acid indigestion — the nickname “heartburn” is misleading because it doesn’t affect the heart — says that most people feel the discomfort in their chest after they eat, or if they lie down or bend over.
The medical cause of indigestion is pretty simple: It is an acid reflux condition, when acid from your stomach backs up into your esophagus, the pipe that carries food from your mouth to your stomach.
The gastroenterology report did not seem to be too alarming. Our stomachs produce a lot of acid in order to break down food into the nutrients our bodies need, so it’s not a surprise when some of the acid goes where it’s not supposed to.
Plenty of things can trigger acid indigestion, such as spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, fatty foods, chocolates, peppermints or alcohol. This varies among individuals, but the report included the warning that people who experience acid indigestion more than twice a week need to see a doctor, as it could indicate a more serious problem that runs the risk of causing damage to the esophagus.