What Makes Your Heartburn Worsen Over Time
There are four common reasons for increased heartburn.
Your muscles weaken as you grow older. And that includes one critical to fending off heartburn the lower esophageal sphincter.
Food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. This sphincter controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. It typically remains tightly closed except when you swallow food. But as you age, it can weaken and stop functioning properly.
Many older adults carry extra weight that can weaken the sphincter further. And, for reasons that arent entirely clear, the risk and severity of GERD is higher for those who are overweight, Dr. Gabbard says.
As you age, your health problems increase and so does your need for medication.
Some blood pressure and antidepressant medications can cause heartburn. Also opiates, says Dr. Gabbard. Being overweight and taking certain medications may be the major driving factors for heartburn.
With age often comes a hiatal hernia, where the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity.
Sixty percent of people over 60 have a hiatal hernia, Dr. Gabbard says. Most are small and do not cause problems, but the larger ones put you at risk for heartburn.
Some Medications Can Worsen Your Heartburn
According to the Mayo Clinic, asthma, which I learned six years ago that I have, often occurs together with acid reflux. Whod have thought? In fact, each can worsen the other!
If you have this uncomfortable combo, ask your doctor to confirm that your asthma medication isnt making your acid reflux worse.
Canada Drug Guide, which is funded by Health Canada lists the following medications as possible contributors to acid reflux:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Pain medications such as ibuprofen
- Products with iron content
- Antibiotics called tetracyclines.
Talk to your your doctor about your acid reflux and how to manage your discomfort while still using the meds you need.
Melon For Heartburn Relief
Melon has a pH of 6.1 and therefore it can be counted as one of the good foods for heartburn. Some people, however, may not respond well to melon and need to avoid it. So you can have some melon pieces every day or make a smoothie with melon and other ingredients that are also good to cure heartburn. Here is one recipe for a melon smoothie that also uses almond milk, cantaloupe, watermelon, ginger and banana. Almonds are also said to be a great remedy for heartburn as they neutralize stomach acid. While you can always snack on almonds, adding a few of them in this smoothie will not only make it tasty but will increase its efficacy in combating heartburn.
Make Melon Smoothie to Prevent Heartburn
- Fresh ginger root- 1 inch piece
- Place all the above ingredients in your blender and blend them together.
- Have this every morning if you have a consistent problem of heartburn.
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How Can I Prevent Heartburn
Follow these tips to prevent heartburn:
- Avoid foods or activities that may cause your symptoms.
- You can also take an over-the-counter medication, such as a chewable antacid tablet, before you eat to prevent heartburn before symptoms start.
- Ginger snacks or ginger tea are also helpful home remedies that you can buy in many stores.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Try to avoid snacking late at night. Instead, stop eating at least four hours before bedtime.
- Rather than two or three large meals, eat smaller meals more frequently to ease the impact on your digestive system.
Last medically reviewed on March 16, 2016
Is There Anything Besides Eating That Leads To Heartburn
Besides eating a heavy meal, heavy lifting can cause heartburn, says Galier. So can exercise. And lying flat, especially after eating a big meal, can lead to heartburn, too.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer, Eisen says, noting that some people think only obesity raises heartburn risk. He also points out that pregnant women can suffer heartburn. He says thatâs probably because elevated levels of the hormone progesterone cause a temporary weakness in the LES.
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How Do Antacids Work To Treat Heartburn
Antacids reduce the amount of stomach acid, relieving your heartburn. These medications can also be used to soothe stomach upset, indigestion and other pains in your stomach. Some antacids contain simethicone, which reduces gas. Antacids that you can get without a prescription include:
Make sure you always follow the instructions on the package or talk to your doctor about the right way to use an antacid. If you use tablets, chew them well before swallowing for faster relief.
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
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Use Fennel And Its Seeds For Heartburn Cure
Fennel has a pH of 6.9 and thus is included in effective foods for heartburn relief. In fact, this herb is good not only for heartburn but many other diseases or conditions related to stomach problems such as indigestion, constipation, flatulence and bloating. Fennel has a volatile oil made up of such components as fenchone, trans-anethole, limonene and a-pinene. All these substances have a carminative effect that provides soothing relief to your stomach and prevents all kinds of digestive disorders including heartburn. The crunchy vegetables as well as the seeds of fennel, both are effective for heartburn.
Ways to Use Fennel for Heartburn
Try Slippery Elm To Get Rid Of Heartburn
Slippery elm has been traditionally used by Native Americans for treating various conditions including wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, skin inflammation as well as coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems. The herb has mucilage, a component that converts into a slick gel when it is mixed with water. It gives slippery elm its demulcent property due to which it coats and soothes the area where it is directed. In case of heartburn, it coats the layer of mucous that lines your stomach and thus creates a barrier against acid that could not find its way up to your esophagus.
- Add the slippery elm powder to water or milk whatever you are comfortable with.
- Stir it well to mix the powder completely into the water.
- You may have it 1-3 times a day depending upon the severity of your heartburn.
- Have this herbal drink after your meals and at bedtime.
Beat The Burn Heartburn That Is
At least 40 million Americans suffer from heartburn. Most have only mild or occasional symptoms. However, about 15 million need medication on a daily basis to control that burning sensation.
What is heartburn?
The feeling varies from person to person, but most people complain about a burning sensation in the chest, near the level of the heart. Occasionally, the pain is lower, near the bottom of the breastbone or sternum. Real heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, but the location of the pain often requires that we make sure the heart is not involved.
The accepted medical term for the problem that causes heartburn is gastroesophageal reflux disease . Its also commonly referred to as acid reflux.
What causes heartburn?
Quite simply, acid reflux refers to acid from the stomach flowing backwards up into the esophagus, also known as the swallowing tube.
As most people know, the stomach makes acid to help digest our food. The lining of the stomach is built to withstand the effects of acid. The acid is supposed to travel downstream into the small intestine along with the food being digested and absorbed. Therefore, the first part of the small intestine, known as the duodenum, also handles acid quite well.
What are symptoms of heartburn?
Are there long-term risks?
In the end result, the main question is, When should I see my doctor?
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What Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn
There are several ways to treat and avoid heartburn with lifestyle changes .
Lose weight and maintain your ideal weight. Excess weight increases the pressure on the stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux into the esophagus.
Avoid foods that aggravate heartburn and replace them with healthy foods. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn . Consider keeping a food journal to alert you to foods that make your heartburn worse. Decrease the amount of food you eat.
Elevate the head of the bed: If you are experiencing heartburn at night, elevating the head of the bed will decrease reflux.
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How Your Weight Affects Your Acid Reflux
At least 15 million people in the United States experience daily heartburn, and many of these people have gastroesophageal reflux disease . This chronic condition can lead to esophageal damage, not to mention the discomfort and unpleasantness of burning sensations around your chest and upper belly.
Anyone can get the symptoms of heartburn due to a large meal or upset tummy, but GERD is chronic. You experience symptoms at least two times a week, and usually more often.
Being overweight is the biggest factor associated with GERD. If youre obese, youre nearly three times more likely than people of a normal weight to develop acid reflux. If youre overweight, your symptoms may be extra uncomfortable. Heres why.
High Bmi Is Linked To Heartburn
Carrying excess weight slows foods course though your digestive system, creates more pressure within your abdomen, and loosens the sphincter muscle that keeps your stomach contents out of your esophagus, concludes a study from the Annals of Internal Medicine.
All of those may explain the link between heartburn and a high BMI, the study authors say.
Reduction in weight through lifestyle modifications such as meeting with a registered dietitian, eating less, and moving more may be the best solutions to reduce the pain, Dardarian says.
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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.
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.
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How Is Gerd Diagnosed
Tell your parents and visit your doctor if you’ve had heartburn that doesn’t 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:
What Can Trigger Heartburn
Heartburn can be triggered by many different things that are a part of your daily life. For many people, heartburn can be caused by certain eating and lifestyle habits. These habits can involve things like eating large portions of food, eating too close to bedtime or even having high stress levels.
Certain foods and drinks can also trigger heartburn for some people. Some foods and drinks that could trigger your heartburn can include:
- Caffeinated beverages.
- Carbonated beverages.
Your lifestyle habits can also play a part in why you might experience heartburn. These everyday factors often contribute to medical conditions that cause heartburn, like GERD or hiatal hernia. Some lifestyle habits that can trigger your heartburn include:
- Being overweight.
- Having a high stress level.
- Wearing tight clothes and belts.
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What’s Normal With Heartburn
“Heartburn should never be considered normal,” says Galier. Food is often the culprit. People with heartburn typically may be sensitive to foods such as chocolate, carbonated beverages, peppermint, coffee, citrus foods, fried and fatty foods, and spicy foods.
Having heartburn more than occasionally can reduce your quality of life. It can affect not just what you eat, but how you sleep and what activities you do.
And if heartburn from acid reflux persists and you don’t get treatment, complications can occur. They include damaging inflammation of the esophagus that affects the lining and causes bleeding. Another potential complication is Barrett’s esophagus. With Barrett’s esophagus the cells that line the esophagus become abnormal. That, in turn, boosts the risk of esophageal cancer.
Vinegar To Cure Heartburn
Vinegar has long been used to get rid of heartburn. Although there is no medical proof of vinegar being a remedy for heartburn, people who use it swear by its efficacy. You too can use vinegar- white or apple cider vinegar- to treat your heartburn but only after diluting it with water. It may or may not give you the required relief from acid reflux but you can know that only after experimenting with it at least once.
- Add the vinegar to your glass of water and mix well.
- Now have this water.
- You may have it 2-3 times a day if you dont notice any discomfort.
- Take it before meals or before bedtime if you cant sleep due to heartburn at night.
Warning: Never use vinegar undiluted. When done so, vinegars acidity may cause damage not only to your esophagus but also to your tooth enamel. Always dilute the vinegar with water before consuming it and wash your mouth with clean water after having it to protect your tooth enamel. If you are not comfortable after having diluted vinegar, immediately stop having it.
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Can Exercise Be A Cause Of Heartburn
Exercise can trigger heartburn. Sometimes thatâs due to increased pressure on the abdomen, which can increase the risk of acid reflux. In one study looking at different types of exercise, weightlifters had the most heartburn and acid reflux. Runners had milder symptoms and less reflux than weightlifters. Cyclists had the least reflux.
Elevate Your Upper Body
Lying down can make heartburn worse. When it comes time for bed, adjust your sleeping surface to raise your upper body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, lifting your head with extra pillows isnt usually enough. Instead, the goal is to elevate your body from the waist up.
If you have an adjustable bed, set it at a suitable angle to provide relief. If your bed isnt adjustable, you can change the angle of your sleeping surface by using a wedge pillow.
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Why Do I Have Acid Reflux On An Empty Stomach
There are multiple reasons why you can get acid reflux on an empty stomach. The most probable causes are either from past effects of irritating the stomach and digestive tract before due to things like eating/drinking things that can worsen acid reflux like spicy food, fatty food and soda to name a few. Also, things like overeating can worsen symptoms because it puts more pressure on the valve above the stomach known as the LES. When this valve has been weakened this makes acid reflux all the more likely even when you havent eaten.
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.
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