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Been Having Alot Of Heartburn Lately

Do I Need To Visit My Doctor About My Heartburn

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If youre experiencing heartburn every once in a while, youre probably ok to go without a visit to Cary Gastroenterology. There are over the counter medications you can take that should give you relief pretty quickly. Over the counter medications are not intended for long term use and, should you find yourself taking them frequently, you should do so under the supervision of a physician. If you start to notice that youre experiencing the pain more often or that its getting increasingly more uncomfortable, make an appointment to come see us. There are a number of things we can recommend that dont require medication, including weight loss, an adjustment in diet and exercise, changes in medications, and even different sleeping positions.

Not All Of Them Are Obvious

Feel like you just cant keep that nasty stuff in your belly from bubbling up into your throat? What youre experiencing might not be run-of-the-mill heartburn. It could be a case of gastroesophageal reflux diseaseGERD, for shorta condition that causes the acid and food in your stomach to rise into your esophagus, and sometimes even enter your mouth or lungs. GERD is far from rare: In fact, it occurs in 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to the medical journal Gastroenterology. But there are also several factors that make some people an easier target for the disease.

Everyone has a small, normal amount of gastroesophageal reflux, but an abnormal amount of acid reflux occurs when the one-way valve between the esophagus and the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, becomes too loose, says Ketan Shah, M.D., gastroenterologist at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. This can occur for multiple reasons that cause intra-abdominal pressure to be abnormally elevated, including being overweight or obese, frequent overeating, lying down too soon after eating, chronic straining or coughing, or chronic heavy lifting. These are typically the people who are more susceptible to GERD.

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The fiery feeling of heartburn is the last way you want to remember a great meal. But when your doctor says you have chronic heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease , you may worry that a bland and disappointing menu is in your future. “That may not be true,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “The foods that trigger heartburn are different for everyone.” He suggests keeping a journal to determine which foods cause symptoms.

Common culprits

Some foods and ingredients may intensify heartburn, such as spicy foods, citrus, tomato sauces, and vinegar.

Fatty and fried foods linger longer in the stomach. That may increase stomach pressure and force open the muscles that keep stomach acid out of the esophagus.

Other common heartburn triggers include chocolate, caffeine, onions, peppermint, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.

Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Heartburn Without Medicine

What Are My Options If These Treatments Don’t Work

If a person continues to have heartburn, a health care professional may recommend adding a drug such as metoclopramide . This drug empties food and acid quickly from the stomach so less can back up into the esophagus. Reglan also helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter.

If a person still have symptoms, a health care professional will then recommend one of the drugs called proton pump inhibitors. Examples of these drugs are omeprazole , lansoprazole , esomeprazole , rabeprazole , and pantoprazole . These tablets prevent the stomach from secreting acid. They are very effective and are typically taken only once a day. These drugs usually are prescribed if other drugs have not helped. They may have to be used indefinitely.

How Is Gerd Diagnosed

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The typical tests that your doctor will use to help diagnose GERD include:

24-hour impedance-probe study: This study involves inserting a flexible tub into your nose and advancing it into the esophagus. The tube has sensors that can detect if acid is refluxing past the esophagus.

Upper endoscopy: This test involves using a special tube with a camera on its end. When youre sedated, the tube can be passed from your mouth into your stomach and part of your small intestine. The upper endoscopy test can help a doctor identify any signs of damage, tumors, inflammation, or ulcers in these areas. Your doctor will usually take a tissue sample known as a biopsy.

Acid from the stomach can damage the lining of the esophagus if GERD is left untreated. This can cause:

The acid can also cause a change in the cells in the esophagus over time. This is called Barretts esophagus. About 10 to 15 percent of people with GERD will develop this condition. Barretts esophagus increases your risk for a type of esophageal cancer known as adenocarcinoma. Experts believe that most cases of this type of esophageal cancer start from cells within Barretts tissue.

Eating certain foods are known to increase the amount of acid in the stomach, which can lead to symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. Avoiding these foods may help to reduce symptoms without taking medications. Examples include:

  • alcoholic beverages

Making lifestyle changes such as:

Also Check: What To Eat To Alleviate Heartburn

What Makes It Better

For most women, things that help reduce acid production or prevent reux are helpful in avoiding the discomfort of heartburn. Here are tips that may help:

  • Avoid classic spicy foods, as well as those with lots of fat or grease. Many people recommend avoiding citrus and chocolate, as well.

  • Eat multiple, small meals spread throughout the day, much like grazing, instead of three big meals.

  • Try elevating the head of your bed by several inches, and wait a while after eating before going to bed or lying down.

Some women find that its better to drink fluids between meals, rather than with a meal. This can increase the amount of contents in the stomach.

If your symptoms do not improve after the above recommended diet and lifestyle changes are in place, talk with your healthcare provider about over-the-counter medicines. Antacids are available as chewable tablets and liquids. They work by coating the lining of the esophagus and stomach and neutralizing stomach acid. Heartburn medicines called H2-blockers work by reducing the amount of acid made by your stomach. Although most of these are considered safe in pregnancy, as with all medicines, these should be avoided in the first trimester.

Why Am I Having Trouble Swallowing

Have you ever heard the saying, it went down the wrong pipe, after someone has taken a sip or bite of food?

Eating and drinking are an important part of life, physically and socially. While most of us have definitely had our bouts with something going down the wrong pipe, for some, difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, could be a symptom of something more serious and worth getting checked out by a doctor.

We spoke with Aravind Sugumar, MD, a gastroenterologist with Banner University Medicine Digestive Institute in Arizona, to help us better understand dysphagia, its causes, symptoms and treatment options.

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Reasons Not To Ignore Heartburn Symptoms

For most Americans, heartburn is just an occasional problem. Sixty million people get it at least once a month.

But for the 19 million people who have a chronic form of heartburn known as gastroesophageal reflux disease , untreated symptoms can lead to a variety of health complications.

If you experience frequent or extended heartburn , see your doctor. Here are nine reasons why you shouldnt ignore signs of GERD.

Esophagitis In GERD, food, acid and digestive juices flow back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Over time, this causes irritation and swelling, known as esophagitis. “If you have acid exposure in the esophagus for even as little as a few weeks, you can develop inflammation of the lining,” says Anish Sheth, M.D., assistant professor of digestive diseases at Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven Conn. “It can be very uncomfortable, even painful, and can leave the esophagus vulnerable to even more harmful erosion or scarring.”

Esophageal stricture If esophagitis goes on too long, scar tissue can narrow the esophagus. Called a stricture, this can make it hard or painful to swallow. Large pieces of food can get stuck and may require endoscopy to remove them. You may also be at risk of choking, and you can lose too much weight if you avoid food and drinks because of a stricture.

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Work with your doctor, who may consider lung function when treating reflux.

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Being constipated is not alarming, and theres no amount of bowel movements thats normal, says Jennifer Katz, M.D., Attending Physician at the Montefiore Medical Center Department of Gastroenterology in New York, NY. In fact, getting stopped up is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems, affecting an estimated 42 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Usually, constipationtaking a poop less than three times per week or having incomplete bowel movementsis caused by not getting enough fiber or a change in your routine or diet.

That said, constipation can sometimes be a sign of something more ominous, says Katz, which might include a thyroid problem, scarring or structuring from injury to the lining of the colon, IBS, or side effects from medications. If your BMs are interfering with the things you like to do, youre constantly running to the toilet to take a BM in installments, your stool is harder and requires straining, or youre using laxatives all the time to try and get things going, make an appointment, says Marion.

There are an amazing number of people who suffer in silence because theyre reluctant to bring it up with their doc, says Marion. There are many things we can do, like dietary changes or medications.

Watch a hot doc explain how you can help a thyroid disorder:

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Note The Time Your Heartburn Symptoms Occur

Think, too, about when the heartburn occurs. Galier says if it happens after a big meal, and it’s just the burning in the chest, with no other symptoms, itâs more than likely heartburn or indigestion. But if you have any doubt, it’s wise to ask your doctor for an evaluation.

“If you have chest pain after a meal, it’s more likely to be reflux,” agrees Glenn Eisen, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of endoscopy at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. But that’s not a perfect test, he says. “It could be cardiac.”

Phil Katz, MD, says that knowing what “classic” heartburn is like may help. Katz is president-elect of the American College of Gastroenterology and clinical professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

âThe classic heartburn symptom,â he tells WebMD, âis burning that starts at the upper stomach or lower breastbone and progresses upward and occurs after a meal or when bending over.” He adds, “It’s rapidly relieved by an antacid within a few minutes.â

Heartburn And Gerd In Pregnant Women

Heartburn and GERD are commonly associated with pregnancy and can occur in women who may never have had GERD symptoms before. Pregnant women usually experience GERD symptoms around the first trimester. It then worsens in the last trimester. The good news is that when your baby is born, your symptoms usually go away.

Pregnancy can increase levels of the hormone progesterone, which can cause the muscles of the lower esophagus to relax. This makes it more likely that acid will reflux. Increased pressure on the stomach from a growing uterus can also increase a womans likelihood for having GERD.

Symptoms include pain that gets worse after a meal and acid regurgitation. Because the symptoms tend to be temporary, a woman usually doesnt experience the long-term complications associated with GERD, like ongoing inflammation.

Doctors usually avoid prescribing too many medications while a woman is pregnant because the medicine can be passed along to the fetus. Instead, doctors usually recommend making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods known to cause acid reflux and sleeping with the head slightly elevated. Taking antacids that contain magnesium, aluminum, and calcium may be permitted. However, antacids with sodium bicarbonate should be avoided in pregnant women because they can affect a womans fluid volumes.

Also Check: Heartburn Or Acid Reflux Symptoms

Burping A Lot 5 Signs Your Body May Be Telling You Something

Whether it feels like there’s sand in your eye or you’re bothered by excessive burping, it may be worthwhile to listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

Dr. Roshini Raj, assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, shared a few symptoms that you might want to pay attention to:

If I Have Heartburn Should I See My Health Care Professional

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That depends. If a person has heartburn more than three times a week for at least two weeks, he or she should see a health care professional. On the other hand, if a person only has occasional bouts of heartburn, he or she may find that taking nonprescription antacids and making some simple changes in lifestyle can resolve the heartburn. If these measures do not help, then a visit to a health care professional is warranted.

If a person has any of these symptoms, with or without heartburn, call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department right away:

  • Throwing up blood or passing blood in bowel movements
  • Severe pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty swallowing

With proper understanding of the condition and treatment, relief can be attained.

When I have chest pain, how can I tell whether it is my heart or just heartburn?

Sometimes a person can’t tell the difference. Just like chest pain from the heart, heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, arms, or back. If a person has chest pain for any reason, seek medical care immediately.

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Why You Should Never Ignore Gerd

After several years, untreated GERD erodes the lining of the esophagus, and as a protective mechanism, the esophagus starts to create a new lining with cells that resemble the makeup of the intestine. At this stage, GERD has progressed into a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, bringing with it a 30-fold increased risk of eventually developing esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is deadly — only about 15% of people are still alive five years after being diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. And it’s more common among individuals who have long suffered from GERD that is not properly treated.

According to a study published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine, cancer of the esophagus was nearly eight times as likely among people who suffered from heartburn at least once a week, and almost 44 times as likely in those who had severe, frequent heartburn for more than 20 years. Almost all of these people had only sporadic treatment for GERD, not long-term treatment.

If you have GERD, and you are having any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away:

  • If difficulty swallowing or a feeling like food is trapped behind the breastbone becomes a new symptom of your GERD.
  • If you vomit blood or have black, tarry bowel movements.
  • If you have the sensation of acid reflux into the windpipe causing shortness of breath, coughing, or hoarseness.
  • If you lose weight unexpectedly or without trying.

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Severe Heartburn It May Be Gerd

Heartburn may seem like an irritation, but it can lead to serious health complications — if left untreated.

You thought you have a simple case of heartburn, but lately, after adding a few inches to your waistline, it’s more than that: a frequent feeling of pain under your breastbone the faint taste of acid on the back of your tongue trouble sleeping a few times a week and problems swallowing.

It happens when you eat too much, when you doze on the couch after dinner, and when you have too many drinks during cocktail hour. Chowing down a few slices of pepperoni pizza doesn’t seem to be a problem, but tacos almost guarantee a night of chest pain and tossing and turning. For other people, the reverse could be true, or the problem could come from other foods.

What’s going on? Your occasional bout of heartburn has now become one part of a larger problem — GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

“Everybody has a little bit of heartburn,” says Joel Richter, MD, a gastroenterologist and chairman of medicine at Temple University. “But GERD is when it becomes chronic, occurring two or three times a week or more when it’s interfering with your lifestyle so that you’re avoiding eating various foods when you’re not exercising because you get heartburn and when it’s interfering with sleep and when swallowing.”

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Medicines That Can Help

We’ve come a long way in the treatment of indigestion, heartburn and peptic ulcers, and it’s all down to advances in medicines.

When I was a medical student, it was fairly common for people to need surgery to control their symptoms – these days tablets like PPIs keep acid under control much better.

Sometimes a germ calledHelicobacter pylori can make indigestion worse. Your doctor may perform a breath, stool or blood test for this and if necessary, give you a one-week course of treatment with three different tablets to get rid of it. This doesn’t always work and it involves taking several tablets a day and often having to avoid even a sip of alcohol for a week, but it can greatly reduce the chance of symptoms returning.

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