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How Does It Feel When You Have Heartburn

Is There Anything Besides Eating That Leads To Heartburn

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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.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What are your main symptoms? Report any symptoms, such as abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits, or vomiting.
  • How long have you had heartburn?
  • Have you had this problem before? If so, do you know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated? How did you respond to that treatment?
  • Have you had any signs of bleeding from your digestive system?
  • Have you had any difficulty swallowing when you eat or drink?
  • How much tobacco do you use? How much alcohol do you drink? How much caffeine do you drink?
  • Has your weight increased or decreased more than 2 kg recently?
  • Have there been any changes in your diet? Are you eating certain foods more often?
  • Have there been changes in your daily schedule, such as when you eat and when you go to bed?
  • Are you taking any non-prescription or prescription medicines? Bring a list of all the medicines you are taking to your appointment.
  • What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they help? Be sure to include lifestyle changes you have made.
  • What non-prescription medicines have you taken or used to treat your heartburn? Did they help?
  • Do you have any health risks?

Remember to take your heartburn symptom record to your doctor visit. Be sure to note any lifestyle changes you have made or non-prescription medicines you use.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Acid Reflux

Your doctor usually can diagnose reflux disease by the symptoms you report.

  • Diet and lifestyle changes may be recommended first, and perhaps an over-the-counter antacid.
  • If symptoms continue more than 4 weeks despite this therapy the person may be referred to a gastroenterologist, which is a doctor who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract.

The gastroenterologist may perform an upper GI series.

  • This is a series of X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the intestine.
  • It is taken after you drink a contrast liquid that makes certain features show up better on the X-rays.
  • This series is sometimes called a barium swallow for one type of contrast liquid that is used and when the examination is limited to the esophagus.
  • This test gives less information than an upper GI endoscopy but is ordered to rule out other conditions such as ulcers or blockage of the esophagus. The upper GI series is sometimes skipped altogether.

The gastroenterologist may perform an upper GI endoscopy, also called esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD, a procedure that can be done as an outpatient.

Esophageal manometry is a test that measures the function of the lower esophageal sphincter and the motor function of the esophagus. A tube is passed down your throat until it reaches the esophagus. It is often performed along with 24-hour pH probe study.

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Common Triggers For Heartburn

Some people experience heartburn regardless of what they eat. Others find they only get it after eating certain foods or meals. Common food triggers for heartburn include:

  • large meals

Smoking cigarettes can also be a trigger for heartburn.

Other things that can increase the risk and the severity of heartburn include:

  • being overweight or obese
  • taking certain medications
  • exercising too soon after eating

Diagnosing H Pylori Infection

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If your GP thinks that your symptoms may be due to an infection with H pylori bacteria, you may need to have a test for it, such as:

  • a stool antigen test a pea-sized stool sample will be tested for H pylori bacteria
  • a breath test
  • a blood test a blood sample will be tested for antibodies to H pylori bacteria

Antibiotics and PPIs can affect the results of a urea breath test or a stool antigen test. Therefore, these tests may need to be delayed until two weeks after you last used a PPI, and four weeks after you last used an antibiotic.

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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:

  • Onions.
  • 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.

Heartburn Causes And Risk Factors

Heartburn symptoms can start up because of a problem with a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter . It’s located where the esophagus meets the stomach — below the rib cage and slightly left of center.

Normally, with the help of gravity, the LES keeps stomach acid right where it should be — in your stomach. When it’s working right, the LES opens to allow food into your stomach or to let you belch, then closes again. But if the LES opens too often or doesn’t close tightly enough, stomach acid can seep into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation.

If your LES doesn’t tighten as it should, there are often two things that contribute to the problem. One is overeating, which puts too much food in your stomach. Another is too much pressure on your stomach, often due to obesity, pregnancy, or constipation.

Certain foods can relax your LES or increase stomach acid, including:

Meals high in fats and oils often lead to heartburn, as do certain medications. Stress and lack of sleep can raise how much acid your stomach makes and can cause heartburn.

If you’re pregnant, the hormone progesterone can relax your LES and lead to heartburn. Smoking also relaxes the LES and increases stomach acid.

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What Is Heartburnand Why Does It Feel So Horrible

Heartburn isn’t necessarily a mysterious condition. The pain and burning in your chest or throat, which can also be called acid reflux, is caused by stomach acid backing up into your esophagus, according to the US National Library of Medicine. In fact, it’s something that over 60 million Americans experience one a monthwith a reported 15 million Americans suffering each day, per the American College of Gastroentrology.

Clearly, such discomfort in your chest would be easy to identify, right? Not exacftlysomtimes acid reflux symptoms are less obvious, or easily mistaken for something else. But, left untreated, heartburn can lead to serious issues, like Barrett’s esophagus, for example, which is a precursor to cancer, says Timothy Pfanner, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A& M Health Science Center College of Medicine, in College Station.

That’s why it’s important to get a firm diagnosis of heartburn, and then manage it, with the help of your doctor. But, to get the ball rolling, here are TK symptomsboth common and not-so commonthat could mean you have acid reflux.

Here are some symptomsboth common and unusualthat could mean you have acid reflux.

What Are Prescription Medications For Heartburn

How to Treat & Prevent Heartburn | Stomach Problems

If over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers do not relieve your heartburn, your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for other medicines, such as:

  • Prescription-strength acid blockers: In prescription-strength , Zantac®, Tagamet®, Pepcid® and Axid® can generally relieve heartburn and treat GERD.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that block acid production more effectively. Proton pump inhibitors include Aciphex®, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec® and Protonix®.

There are some proton pump inhibitors that can be purchased over-the-counter. Talk to your healthcare provider about these medications and what is best for you.

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What Heartburn Feels Like

You get this problem when stomach acid moves into a tube called the esophagus, which carries food from your mouth to the stomach. When that happens, you could have a burning pain in your chest. Your throat might burn, and you could have a sour taste in your mouth or a cough. You may also hear it called GERD , which is heartburn that happens often. But other conditions can have similar symptoms.

Diagnosis And Tests For Acid Reflux

Doctors typically start by asking questions about your medical history and how long youve been experiencing symptoms of acid reflux. They usually move on to performing a physical exam. Your physician may also recommend other tests to determine whether you have GERD or another kind of acid reflux, like:

  • Endoscopy A thin, flexible tube gets inserted down your throat. The end contains a light and a camera, which allows a doctor to view the inside of the stomach and esophagus.
  • Ambulatory acid probe test Your doctor places a monitor into your esophagus to observe when your stomach acid regurgitates, and for how long. The monitor feeds information to a small computer worn around your waist or held up by your shoulder with a strap. It typically passes out of your body through stool after a few days.
  • Digestive system x-ray After drinking a special liquid that coats your digestive tract, your doctor takes x-rays that lets doctors see the outline of your stomach, esophagus, and lower intestine. Your physician may also ask you to take a barium pill that helps diagnose whether you have an esophageal stricture.

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What Nonprescription Medications Treat Acid Reflux

Over-the-counter medications also may help relieve your symptoms. Check with your health-care professional before trying any of these.

Antacids : These are effective when taken 1 hour after meals and at bedtime because they neutralize acid already present.

  • Some are combined with a foaming agent. Foam in the stomach helps prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus.
  • These agents are safe to use every day over a few weeks, but if taken over a longer period can cause side effects:
  • Impaired metabolism of calcium in the body
  • Build-up of magnesium in the body, which can damage the kidneys
  • If you use these daily for more than 3 weeks, inform your health-care professional.
  • Histamine-2 receptor blockers prevent acid production.

    • H2-blockers are effective only if taken at least 1 hour before meals because they don’t affect acid that is already present.
    • Common H2-blockers are cimetidine , famotidine , ranitidine , and nizatidine .

    If self-care and treatment with nonprescription medication does not work, your health-care professional likely will prescribe one of a class of stronger antacids. This therapy may be needed only for a short time or over a longer period while you make gradual changes in your lifestyle.

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    Last Updated: May 25, 2021ReferencesApproved

    This article was co-authored by Peter Gardner, MD. Peter W. Gardner, MD is a board certified physician who has practiced Gastroenterology and Hepatology for over 30 years. He specializes in diseases of the digestive system and liver. Dr. Gardner earned his Bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina and attended Georgetown Medical School. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and then his fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Connecticut. He is a previous Chief of Gastroenterology at Stamford Hospital and remains on the staff. He is also on the staff of Greenwich Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Gardner is an Approved Consultant in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology with the American Board of Internal Medicine.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 33,842 times.

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    Symptoms Of Acid Reflux

    02-14-20 – Esophageal Issues

    Most people have experienced the symptoms of heartburn at one time or another. Perhaps you ate too much just before bed and awoke to a burning sensation in your chest. You may have even had some regurgitation of stomach acid into your throat and mouth. While unpleasant, these symptoms are easily treated with antacids or home remedies for most. Its only an occasional occurrence and is given little thought after the discomfort passes. However, for sufferers of acid reflux disease, these symptoms and others can become a regular occurrence.

    When heartburn becomes more persistent, occurring two or more times a week, or if it is resistant to medications, its time to see a specialist. Additionally, there are several other symptoms that may suggest acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease . While these symptoms may not be as disruptive as heartburn, they also point to this chronic digestive disorder and should be addressed.

    Treatments For Acid Reflux

    Your doctor may recommend treating milder forms of acid reflux through a combination of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. If you are diagnosed with GERD, the doctor may write you a prescription to help with the symptoms.

    If lifestyle changes and medication fail to provide relief, a physician might recommend that you have surgery for acid reflux. Available surgical options for treating the condition include:

    • Fundoplication– A minimally invasive procedure that involves wrapping the area around your lower esophageal sphincter to tighten that muscle, preventing reflux.
    • LINX device – Your surgeon wraps a ring of small magnetic beads around the place where your stomach and esophagus meet. The magnetized beads’ strength keeps that juncture closed but still allows food to pass to your stomach.

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    When To See The Doctor About Acid Reflux

    You should see a doctor about your acid reflux if it gets to a point where its causing persistent discomfort in your daily life. The condition is not life-threatening, but you can end up with some serious complications.

    GERD can lead to chronic inflammation in your esophagus. You could end up with the following conditions if you dont receive proper and timely treatment:

    • Esophageal stricture An esophageal stricture forms when your lower esophagus ends up with damage from stomach acids, leading to scar tissue formation. The presence of that scar tissue causes your food pathway to narrow, which causes you to have trouble swallowing your food.
    • Esophageal ulcer An esophageal ulcer is a sore that develops when your stomach acid wears away the issue of your esophagus. It can start bleeding, which can cause pain and leads to problems with swallowing.
    • Barretts esophagus The damage caused in your lower esophagus tissue by stomach acid can induce changes that increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.

    Your Asthma Gets Triggeredoften

    Heartburn, Acid Reflux, GERD-Mayo Clinic

    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.

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    What Prescription Medications Treat Acid Reflux

    These drugs use different mechanisms to reduce reflux.

    Proton Pump Inhibitors

    • PPIs include omeprazole , esomeprazole , lansoprazole , rabeprazole , and pantoprazole . Many of these medications can now be found over-the-counter in certain doses, without a prescription.
    • They block the production of an enzyme needed to produce stomach acid.
    • PPIs stop acid production more completely than H2-blockers.

    Coating Agents

    Sucralfate coats mucous membranes and sores to provide an additional protective barrier against stomach acid.

    Promotility Agents

    • Promotility agents include metoclopramide and bethanechol .
    • They help tighten the lower esophageal sphincter and promote faster emptying of the stomach.
    • Health-care professionals often are reluctant to prescribe these medications because they have fairly significant side effects.
    • Promotility agents also do not work as well as PPIs for most people.
    • One of these agents, cisapride , has been removed from the U.S. market because of safety concerns related to drug interactions that could cause lethal cardiac conditions.

    For best results, follow the advice of your health-care professional concerning medication and lifestyle.

    Let your doctor what you are doing about your reflux disease and how well it is working.

    Keep follow-up appointments. Your doctor may adjust your treatment at preset intervals of time or decide to refer you to a specialist if initial therapy fails.

    How Is Gerd Diagnosed

    Your doctor will ask you questions about your signs and do an exam. Many times, doctors can be fairly certain a person has GERD just by the signs. If your doctor thinks your signs are caused by GERD, medicine may help. If the medicine helps, you and your doctor will know that GERD was the cause of your problems. You may not need to have any special tests.

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