Where Is The Pain
The pain experienced by gallbladder symptoms must be understood according to the function of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a hollow organ, found beneath your liver and up to the right side of your abdomen. If the pain you are experiencing is beneath your lower right ribs, and potentially radiating into regions of the right upper back, chest, or shoulder, these are symptoms of gallbladder disease.
Compare this to heartburn or acid reflux. Any pain you experience from acid reflux is due to the contents of your stomach rising into your esophagus, typically causing sharp pain in your stomach and lower chest, which is in and of itself a different location. This is perhaps the most important identifier of whether a pain is due to gallbladder disease or from acid reflux.
Sleep On An Incline And On Your Side
When you sleep on an incline, theres a drastic reduction in acid exposure and acid clearance time . And when you sleep on your side, relief comes more quickly than sleeping on your stomach or back. Sleeping on your left side means fewer reflux episodes, while sleeping on your right side allows your stomach to empty more quickly: this is why many people choose to use a specialized acid reflux pillow.
Currently, the only sleep system that keeps you comfortably on an incline and on your side is a heartburn pillow from MedCline. With its 3-part construction, youll rest in the best sleeping position for reflux that helps alleviate the worst symptoms. Your esophagus will have some time to heal and youll have better rest without experiencing reflux disturbances or heartburn in the morning.
Keep in mind that some incline products like wedge pillows and bed risers only prop you up at an angle without securing you on your side. If you roll onto your back, youre not optimally positioned for reflux relief. Or, if you slide down the bed or off the pillow, you wont have the benefit of gravity to help reduce acid exposure.
Symptoms Can Last Up To Several Hours After Onset
Heartburn involves a burning, painful sensation behind your breastbone in the center of your chest.
This pain often gets worse after you eat, in the evening, when you bend over, or when you lie down.
Episodes of heartburn can last between a few minutes and several hours.
In addition to burning sensations in your chest, heartburn may also involve:
- A burning sensation in your throat
- Fluid in your throat that tastes bitter, sour, or salty
- Difficulty swallowing
- A sense that food is stuck in your chest or lower throat
Heartburn often begins after youve eaten a large meal, but it can also be triggered by certain foods even if you dont eat very much.
Don’t Miss: Why Is Heartburn Worse At Night
What Are Acid Reflux And Heartburn
Your esophagus contains a small muscle that constricts when youre not eating, keeping stomach acid from splashing out of your stomach back up into your esophagus. However, sometimes this muscle is weakened or doesnt work properly, allowing acid to move from the stomach into the esophagus. This is the cause of acid reflux and heartburn.
Acid reflux has a number of symptoms:
- Heartburn: a feeling of burning pain in the abdomen or chest that usually occurs after eating, while bending over or exercising, or when lying down.
- A sour-sweet and irritating feeling of acid splashing up into your esophagus
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing, a feeling of something in your throat, and regurgitation
Note: Heartburn is not directly related to the heart, though pain can occur in the chest because of the location of the stomach and lower portion of the esophagus. However, severe heartburn and heart attack symptoms can sometimes be difficult to tell apart. If youre experiencing abnormally severe chest pain, its important to seek emergency medical attention especially if you have a personal or family history of heart disease.
Acid reflux and heartburn in the morning can be both a nuisance and moderately painful. However, if left untreated, they can also cause serious damage to your esophagus in some cases, this can even lead to esophageal cancer.
Avoid The Usual Suspects Especially At The End Of The Day
Your last meal should be at least three to four hours before bedtime, and youll want to avoid: coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, greasy food, fried food, fatty food, spicy food, and alcohol.
Those are all things that I don’t believe actually cause reflux, but I believe are all triggers that set it off or make it worse, says Zalvan.
Also Check: What Can You Drink For Heartburn
Treating Severe Heartburn And Gerd
The newest — and most effective — class of heartburn drugs are the proton pump inhibitors. These work by blocking the effects of an enzyme that produces acid in the stomach. So far, only Prilosec OTC is available over-the-counter. Other proton pump inhibitors, such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, and Protonix, are available with a prescription from your doctor.
A lot of people find that one prescription medication on its own may not be enough. For severe GERD, Spechler says that you may need not only one to two daily doses of a proton pump inhibitor, but also a bedtime dose of an H2 receptor antagonist. You may need over-the-counter antacids, too. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the problem that’s causing your symptoms. But surgery isn’t always a complete solution. Some people still wind up needing medication afterwards. Be sure you’re under a doctor’s care if you take heartburn drugs regularly. They can slightly increase the risk of pneumonia.
The key is to get treatment. If you have frequent nighttime heartburn — and lifestyle changes aren’t helping — see your doctor.
“In recent years, we’ve become more and more aware of GERD as a risk for much more serious conditions, even cancer,” says Cheskin. “It’s not just heartburn. So you shouldn’t be complacent about it until you have it checked out.”
Know Your Medication Side Effects
Certain medications may contribute to GERD. Some common ones include:
- anticholinergics, which treat, among other conditions, overactive bladder and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- tricyclic antidepressants
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
If these or other medications are causing acid reflux or other symptoms, tell your doctor. Alternative treatments may be available.
Don’t Miss: Natural Relief For Heartburn And Indigestion
When To See A Doctor
Intermittent heartburn at night can be normal, and many times you can identify a culprit, such as a big meal, eating too close to bedtime, or eating certain foods.
But if you experience frequent heartburn, you should see a healthcare provider. Persistent heartburn can scar and narrow your esophagus if left untreated, and it can even lead to esophageal cancer.
See a provider if you think you may have GERD, or if your heartburn doesnt get better after using OTC medication or attempting to make some lifestyle changes.
You should also check in with your provider if you experience any of the other symptoms of GERD beyond just heartburn.
How Is Gerd Diagnosed
Tell your parents and visit your doctor if youve had heartburn that doesnt seem to go away or any other symptoms of GERD for a while.
The doctor will do an exam and ask about your symptoms. If the doctor suspects GERD, you might go see a pediatric gastroenterologist. This is a doctor who treats kids and teens who have problems of the gastrointestinal system.
Doctors sometimes order these tests to diagnose GERD or rule out other possible problems:
Read Also: Can Throwing Up Help Heartburn
What Are The Complications Of Gerd
Some babies and children who have GERD may not vomit. But their stomach contents may still move up the food pipe and spill over into the windpipe . This can cause asthma or pneumonia.
The vomiting that affects many babies and children with GERD can cause problems with weight gain and poor nutrition. Over time, when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, it can also lead to:
- Inflammation of the esophagus, called esophagitis
- Sores or ulcers in the esophagus, which can be painful and may bleed
- A lack of red blood cells, from bleeding sores
Adults may also have long-term problems from inflammation of the esophagus. These include:
- Narrowing, or stricture, of the esophagus
- Barretts esophagus, a condition where there are abnormal cells in the esophageal lining
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.
Also Check: Heartburn Medication That Causes Cancer
Chocolate Can Cause Everyday Heartburn
Your sweet tooth aint gonna like this, but chocolate may also trigger heartburn attacks.
Again, the problem lies in LES relaxation and subsequent acid reflux.
Eating chocolate boosts your serotonin level, making you feel happy and relaxed.
Unfortunately, the same goes for your LES, which has different types of
And you know the drill: relaxed LES => acid reflux => heartburn
Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate may contribute to LES relaxation, too.
Are There Any Tests For Heartburn
If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.
If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.
There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:
Read Also: Why Am I Having A Lot Of Heartburn
Big Meals And Eating Certain Foods
The occasional episode of acid reflux may also just be the result of a little more acid production than usual perhaps brought on by a particularly large meal or your sensitivity to certain foods.
And if you lie down before all your food is digested, you run the risk of having some of that excess acid leak through the sphincter.
Regardless of the cause of your acid reflux, lying down whether its at night or during the day is bound to worsen symptoms and prolong the time it will take your body to digest your food completely.
What Kinds Of Complications Are Caused By Frequent Heartburn
- Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing .
- Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
- Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage . A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
- If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.
You May Like: What’s The Best Heartburn Medicine For Pregnant
Your Stomach Is Cramping And You Feel Nauseous
Stomach pain and nausea are another relatively common side effect of omeprazole, Ravella says. This can be frustrating since the whole point of taking the meds is to help you eat with less pain, and if omeprazole is making your stomach hurt, youre just ruining your meal in a different way.
One possible remedy is to try taking the pill just before your meal instead of first thing in the morning, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the pain is so much that its interfering with your ability to eat, then call your doctor right away.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
For any new symptoms of heartburn that occur more than twice a week and aren’t relieved by over-the-counter antacids, you should see your healthcare provider. It’s never too late to make that appointment if you have chronic heartburn, either.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if:
- Heartburn occurs more than twice a week
- Symptoms persist despite use of over-the-counter medications
- You have difficulty swallowing
- You have persistent nausea or vomiting
- You have weight loss because of a poor appetite or difficulty eating
Your healthcare provider will assess your digestive health and your heart health. The two of you can discuss a treatment plan that works for you.
Heartburn Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
You should see your healthcare provider immediately for the symptom of vomiting, especially if you have vomited a large amount, you frequently have forceful vomiting, or the vomited fluid is bloody, is green or yellow, or looks like it contains coffee grounds. Having problems breathing after vomiting is also an indication that you should see your healthcare provider immediately.
Don’t Miss: Causes Of Heartburn And Chest Pain
Talk To Your Doctor About Finding The Right Medication
Certain medications can help keep your reflux symptoms to a minimum and prevent you from waking up with heartburn in the morning. However, as with any medication, there can be side effects, so its always a good idea to talk with your doctor before using anything to treat your symptoms, especially if you already use other medications.
In general, there are three kinds of medicine that are used to cut down on heartburn and reflux:
- Antacids: These often come in the form of chewable tablets that neutralize the acid in your stomach, and are best suited for calming symptoms as needed.
- H-2 Blockers: This type of medication slows the production of stomach acid, providing relief over a longer period rather than immediate symptom reduction.
- Proton pump inhibitors: PPIs are also used to reduce the production of stomach acid.
If you deal with frequent heartburn and acid reflux, you may be suffering from GERD. Before starting any kind of medication, be sure to talk to your doctor to decide what course of action might be best for you. Because medications can come with troubling side effects, it is also worth it to consider less invasive forms of relieving symptoms often, they can even be more effective.
Do I Need To Visit My Doctor About My Heartburn
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.
Don’t Miss: Best Medicine To Treat Heartburn
Treatment For Heartburn In Teenagers
Your doctor may suggest dietary modifications and lifestyle changes to reduce acid reflux. Chewing sugarless gums after eating and sleeping on the side or with an elevated head position may be useful in some teens. If conservative management fails to resolve heartburn, your teen will have to undergo pharmacological treatments.
Heartburn can be treated with medications depending on the causes. The following medications are used :
Almost all of the following drugs, except prokinetics are available OTC , one or two doses may be taken for acute relief. But a doctors advice should be sought if they are needed more than that not only because they have potential adverse effects but also because their abuse may mask the underlying condition which could be dangerous.
- Antacids:This medication neutralizes stomach acid, and it is available as Maalox, Alka-Seltzer, Riopan, Mylanta, etc. Seek a doctors advice for dosing since it may cause side effects such as constipation and diarrhea. Also prolonged consumption of antacids for symptom relief is not advisable and treatment of cause is needed to avoid long-term complications of acid reflux.
- H2 blockers: These drugs decrease the production of stomach acid. Cimetidine , ranitidine , or famotidine are H2 blockers.
- Proton pump inhibitors : These drugs also reduce stomach acid production. omeprazole , esomeprazole , and pantoprazole are a few examples of PPIs.
Why Is Acid Reflux Gerd Worse At Night Time
DOCTOR’S VIEWS ARCHIVE
A viewer wants to know why his acid reflux usually is worse at nighttime?
Dr. Marks:Acid reflux is worse at night for three reasons. First, the concentration of acid in the stomach is higher at night. Second, in the lying position, it is easier for acid to reflux and to remain in the esophagus., Gravity does not take the acid back down into the stomach. Third, while we are sleeping, we don’t swallow. Swallowing is important because it carries the acid that has refluxed into the esophagus back into the stomach. When we swallow we also carry saliva through the esophagus and into the stomach. Saliva contains bicarbonate, which neutralizes and counters the acid in the esophagus.
The published answers represent the opinions and perspectives of the doctors and pharmacists of MedicineNet.com and are for educational purposes only. They should not be used to replace or substitute for timely consultation with your doctor. Accuracy of information cannot be guaranteed.
Please remember, information can be subject to interpretation and can become obsolete.
Back to Doctors’ Dialogue Index
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Don’t Miss: Is Cranberry Juice Good For Heartburn