Many of the remedies proposed in olden days for heartburn, made matters worse, not better. We look at three popular myths and why they are bad news for you:
Spicy food and stress cause stomach ulcers
False. The truth is, almost all stomach ulcers are caused either by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or by use of pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, the so-called nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Most H. pylori-related ulcers can be cured with antibiotics. NSAID-induced ulcers can be cured with time, stomach-protective medications, antacids, and avoidance of NSAIDs. Spicy food and stress may aggravate ulcer symptoms in some people, but they do not cause ulcers.
Smoking a cigarette helps relieve heartburn
False. Actually, cigarette smoking contributes to heartburn. Heartburn occurs when the lower oesophageal sphinctre - muscle between the oesophagus and stomach - relaxes, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to splash back into the oesophagus. Cigarette smoking causes the sphinctre to relax.
A bit of undiluted vinegar will put an end to heartburn
False. If you are suffering from heartburn, drinking vinegar is just about the worst thing you can do. Consumption of vinegar will increase, not decrease, the acid levels in your stomach. Long-term consumption of vinegar will cause diarrhoea and can do damage to your stomach lining.