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Heartburn When To See A Doctor

When Is Heartburn Considered Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

When should I see a specialist for heartburn or acid reflux vs my regular doctor? #BassListens

Its that familiar burning or painful sensation in the chest that pretty much everyone has experienced often enough to immediately declare it a case of heartburn. However, some people arent sure if what the heartburn they feel is normal or a more serious, common condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .

Things That Can Make Heartburn Worse

Many things can make heartburn worse. Heartburn is most common after overeating, when bending over or when lying down. Pregnancy, stress, and certain foods can also make heartburn worse.

Things that can make heartburn worse:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Certain drinks, including coffee , other drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fatty foods or spicy foods
  • Lying down too soon after eating
  • Being overweight or obese

How Long Heartburn Lasts

Heartburn can last anywhere from several minutes to a few hours, depending on the underlying cause.

For example, after eating a spicy meal, mild heartburn can last for as long as it takes to digest the food but the symptoms may reoccur a few hours after youve eaten, when you lie down in bed at night or when bending over.

Bending over allows gravity to help pull the acid from the stomach, potentiating the severity of heartburn symptoms. The symptoms often awaken a person during the night, while sleeping.

Occasional heartburn goes away on its own and can often be prevented by avoiding certain foods . But when heartburn is severe, it usually requires medical treatment.

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When Heartburn Becomes Acid Reflux

There is a fairly simple way to know if heartburn is caused by gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, commonly known as acid reflux. As Andrew Gawron, MD, a gastroenterologist with University of Utah Health puts it, The definition of gastroesophageal acid reflux disease is when reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus cause troublesome symptoms or complications that impact the quality of life.

In other words, if heartburn is frequent enough that it causes problems that make your quality of life diminished, you may have acid reflux disease. This might mean that youre unable to sleep at night because of pain, or you might go so far as to find that acid is eating away at the lining of the throat or esophagus. In some cases, GERD can also predispose someone to a pre-cancerous condition in the esophagus called Barretts esophagus.

When You Have A Cough That Just Won’t Go Away

Heartburn: 10 remedies and when to see a doctor

There are any number of reasons for why you may have a chronic cough, from a respiratory tract infection to bronchitis. But often, a chronic cough is a symptom of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease . It’s not just a persistent cough, though — heartburn frequently occurs in conjunction with symptoms of asthma, such as wheezing. Of course, you may not have the chest pain that accompanies heartburn, so you may not think that you’re actually seeing a doctor for heartburn until you get the diagnosis. Since the constant coughing can do damage to the esophagus, it’s important to seek treatment so that permanent harm isn’t done.

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You Feel Nauseous After Meals Often

Nausea is associated with so many things that it can be hard to attribute it to reflux. But, says Dr. Coyle, “in some people, the only manifestation they have of reflux is nausea. If you have nausea and can’t figure out why, one of the things think about is reflux.”

And if the nausea tends to come on right after meals, that’s even more of an indication that it might be acid reflux. If so, a regular antacid treatment such as an over-the-counter acid-countering medicine could cut down on your discomfort.

If You’ve Been Taking Medications For A Long Time

Occasional heartburn is often relieved with a simple antacid. However, if you’ve been devouring antacids for weeks and not seeing results, then see a doctor. You may require a stronger prescription medication.

Prescription medications for heartburn aren’t meant to be lifetime drugs, but many people treat them as such. Obviously, it’s difficult to stop taking something that relieves possible pain. While heartburn medications are generally safe, doctors do warn that there are some long-term side effects that are cause for concern. Because the drugs decrease your gastric acid, your body absorbs far less calcium from your diet than normal. As a result, you could be at a higher risk for experiencing a bone fracture or osteoporosis. While the benefits of staying on the drugs outweigh the risks for frequent heartburn sufferers, those who suffer from heartburn only infrequently should eventually taper off their use.

If severe heartburn occurs in a relatively young person, who faces a lifetime of taking prescription medications, doctors may consider surgery in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the esophageal sphincter to strengthen it. Surgery is not recommended for everyone due to its invasive nature and due to studies that show that it might not be a permanent fix .

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Heartburn When To See A Doctor

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Is There a Way to Treat Acid Reflux In Infants

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These are searching for ways to fight heartburn episodes. Caffeine and vinegar mixed with a glass of water will dilute acid.

When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn

Holiday Foods That Can Trigger Heartburn, According To a Doctor

Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.

You should contact your doctor if:

  • Your heartburn wont go away.
  • Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
  • Its hard or hurts to swallow.
  • Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
  • You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
  • You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
  • You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
  • You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
  • Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.

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Frequent Heartburn Heres When You Should See A Doctor

Its not uncommon to feel heartburn after a spicy meal or alcoholic beverage.

But for 1 in 5 Americans, frequent heartburn is a result of GERDgastroesophageal reflux disease, says Dr. JoAnn OKeefe, Mon Health Gastroenterologist.

GERD causes the contents of the stomach to flow back into the esophagus, a sensation many of us know as reflux, says Dr. OKeefe. There are several medical options available to manage GERDs uncomfortable symptoms, but it can cause more serious complications if left untreated.

Left ignored, GERD can lead to Barretts esophagus, a condition in which esophageal lining changes to tissue resembling intestinal lining. The disease increases a persons risk for esophageal cancer and is more common among men than women, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

You Have Sharp Chest Pain

Clearly, chest pain is a telltale sign of heartburnbut it can also be a sign of a heart attack. In fact, many people mistake heartburn for a heart attack. While you definitely shouldn’t diagnose yourself, there are a few ways to tell if your chest pain is heart attack or heartburn related.

In heart-related chest pain, for example, the pain will feel more like a tightness or pressure in your chest, and may spread to the back, neck, jaw, or arms. It’s also often associated with sweating, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, or an irregular pulse. Heartburn-related chest pain, on the other hand, is typically a sharper pain that may be precipitated by eating a fatty or spicy meal and is affected by change in position .

Still, if you’re having chest pain and your’e worried, check with your doctor just to rule out a heart attack, says Walter J. Coyle, MD, gastroenterologist with Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.

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Shifting Of Pain In Stomach Or Abdomen

Mild acid reflux typically occurs in the same place each time you experience a flare-up of your symptoms. However, if the pain moves around your stomach or chest or it relocates to a new area entirely, you should go to the ER or your doctor immediately. This symptom could signal that the damage from this disease is rapidly expanding into a new location in your body or that you are developing ulcers.

When Heartburn Becomes Frequent

Links Between Age and Heartburn

Sometimes heartburn may be a symptom of a more severe problem like gastroesophageal reflux disease , which is the chronic form of acid reflux. If your acid reflux occurs more than twice a week for a few weeks, it may be due to GERD. Its a disease where you have significant symptoms from acid reflux and/or evidence of damage to your esophagus. Americans are no stranger to GERD either it affects around 20 percent of the population.

In addition to burning or sharp chest pain, symptoms of GERD can include regurgitation , nausea, a recurring sour or bitter taste in your mouth, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, dry cough, bad breath, damage to tooth enamel, wheezing or repeatedly needing to clear your throat.

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How Do Acid Blockers Work To Treat Heartburn

Products like Pepcid AC® are called histamine H2 blockers, or acid blockers. Acid blockers reduce the production of stomach acid. They relieve heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach. Always follow the directions on the packaging or talk to your healthcare provider about how to take this medication. Acid blockers you can buy without a prescription include:

  • Pepcid AC®.
  • Tagamet HB®.

Take your acid blocker medicine regularly for as long as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you do not have any pain or if your symptoms get better.

Stronger acid blockers are prescription medications. These can be used to block stomach acid, treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid. Your healthcare provider will give you a specific prescription for this type of acid blocker.

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently reported elevated levels of a possible carcinogen, NDMA, in the drugs ranitidine and nizatidine . You should speak to your healthcare provider if you are taking one these medications.

Find Relief At Mon Health Digestive Care & Gastroenterology

Millions of Americans are diagnosed with digestive disorders such as GERD each year. If youre suffering from uncomfortable symptoms, schedule an appointment with our highly trained experts who specialize in diagnosing and treating a wide range of digestive and gastrointestinal issues. Call 304-598-2700 to schedule an appointment today.

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When To See A Doctor About Heartburn

Heartburn that becomes chronic is whats known as gastroesophageal reflux disease . The remedies above can help relieve or prevent occasional heartburn, but GERD is a serious condition that requires medical attention to treat effectively. Make an appointment to see a gastroenterologist if you experience any of the following:

  • Heartburn that occurs more than twice per week
  • Heartburn that keeps you awake at night
  • Heartburn that causes forceful or projectile vomiting, vomiting blood or vomiting a green or yellow fluid or substance that looks like coffee grounds
  • Difficulty swallowing, or pain in your mouth or throat when eating
  • Heartburn that doesnt go away after taking medications for two weeks

If Your Heartburn Lasts Longer Than Two Weeks

Which Doctor Should I See?

Occasional heartburn may not require a visit to the doctor, but if you have heartburn that occurs several times a week, for more than two weeks, then it’s time to go to the doctor. For most people, the symptom can be controlled with either over-the-counter or prescription medications. However, in rare instances, that constant heartburn can indicate a far more serious condition. Because heartburn damages the esophagus tissue, you may be at risk for a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. That, in turn, puts a person at risk for esophageal cancer, which is the fastest-growing cancer in the United States . To determine the extent of esophageal damage, a doctor will perform an endoscopy, in which a tube is slid down the throat to the esophagus. In some cases, surgery to reinforce the esophageal sphincter may be recommended, so if you suffer from heartburn very frequently, consult your doctor.

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Tips To Treat Gastritis

The following are the various tips to manage gastritis

  • Avoid smoking and limit the amount of alcohol.
  • Avoid prolonging the use of pain-relieving medications.
  • Eat frequent, smaller meals.
  • Avoid foods that irritate the stomach lining, such as acidic foods, processed and high-sugar foods.
  • Essential oils to limit or prevent the growth of H. pylori.
  • Manage stress through exercise and meditation

What Does Heartburn Feel Like

Heartburn typically feels like a burning in the center of your chest, behind your breastbone. When you have heartburn, you may also feel symptoms like:

  • A burning feeling in your chest that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
  • Pain in your chest when you bend over or lay down.
  • A burning feeling in your throat.
  • A hot, sour, acidic or salty taste in the back of your throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing.

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When To Call The Doctor About Heartburn Or Reflux

If you have any of the following heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms or conditions, contact your doctor.

  • Your heartburn symptoms have become more severe or frequent.
  • You are having difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing, especially with solid foods or pills.
  • Your heartburn is causing you to have nausea or vomiting .
  • You’ve experienced a drastic or unexplained weight loss accompanied by heartburn.
  • You have a chronic cough, choking sensation or sense of a lump in your throat.
  • You have been using over-the-counter antacid medications for more than two weeks , and you still have heartburn symptoms.
  • You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription or nonprescription medications.
  • You have chronic hoarseness or wheezing, or your asthma has worsened.
  • Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
  • You are having chest pain accompanied by pain in the neck, jaw, arms, or legs shortness of breath, weakness, irregular pulse, or sweating.

Your Pain Is Worse When You Lie Down

Frequent heartburn? Here

Because heartburn is caused by stomach acid that creeps back into your esophagus, your symptoms can worsen when you lie down or bend over. “If you’re sitting up straight, gravity helps keep food in the stomach,” says Dr. Coyle. “If you lose the gravity, you’re more prone to reflux.”

A qjuick fix? Many people with chronic heartburn often raise the head of their bed, so they’re not laying completely horizontal. Eating meals right before bedtime is also something that should be avoided if you have recurring heartburn.

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Your Asthma Gets Triggeredoften

The coughing and wheezing from heartburn can get so bad they could become triggers for asthma.

It is not clear, however, if frequent heartburn actually causes people to develop asthma. Although many people who have heartburn also have asthma and vice versa, the reasons for this overlap aren’t clear.

Experts think stomach acid can trigger nerves in the chest to constrict your breathing tubes in order to keep acid from entering. Again, a simple pH test to look for acid in your esophagus may help you get to the bottom of the problem.

You Have Frequent Or Severe Symptoms Of Gerd

Recurrent acid reflux causes GERD. A relaxed LES allows stomach acid allowed to flow back into the esophagus. Stomach acid can irritate or damage the lining of the esophagus. This can cause inflammation and can lead to more serious conditions over time. Symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitating food or sour liquid
  • Feeling like there is a lump in your throat

If you have acid reflux at night, you might experience coughing, laryngitis, asthma, and sleep disruption.

If you have heartburn two or more times per week, you should see a doctor. Schedule an appointment today.

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