A Few Lifestyle Changes Are Worth Trying Before Resorting To Drugs For Controlling Gastroesophageal Reflux
If you are sounding a little hoarse and have a sore throat, you may be bracing for a cold or a bout of the flu. But if you’ve had these symptoms for a while, they might be caused not by a virus but by a valveyour lower esophageal sphincter. That’s the muscle that controls the passage between the esophagus and stomach, and when it doesn’t close completely, stomach acid and food flow back into the esophagus. The medical term for this process is gastroesophageal reflux the backward flow of acid is called acid reflux.
Acid reflux can cause sore throats and hoarseness and may literally leave a bad taste in your mouth. When acid reflux produces chronic symptoms, it is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or GERD. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburnpain in the upper abdomen and chest.
Three conditionspoor clearance of food or acid from the esophagus, too much acid in the stomach, and delayed stomach emptyingcontribute to acid reflux, says Dr. Jacqueline Wolf, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of A Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Stomach: Taking Control of Your Digestive Health.
What Exactly Is Heartburn
Heartburn, also described by experts as acid indigestion, is a medical condition characterized by a painful or burning sensation originating from the middle of the chest or the above part of the stomach. From there, the pain can spread upwards, usually toward ones throat and even jaw and arms. While the feeling sometimes goes away almost immediately, severe or persistent heartburn can easily stick around for several hours.
Limit Your Intake Of Carbonated Beverages
Healthcare professionals sometimes advise people with GERD to limit their intake of carbonated beverages.
This is because studies have observed that regular consumption of carbonated or fizzy beverages, including soft drinks, club soda, and seltzer, could be linked to a higher risk of reflux .
One study found that carbonated soft drinks, in particular, worsened certain acid reflux symptoms, including heartburn, fullness, and burping .
The main reason is that the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated beverages causes people to burp more often an effect that can increase the amount of acid escaping into the esophagus .
Drinking carbonated beverages temporarily increases the frequency of burping, which may promote acid reflux. If they worsen your symptoms, try drinking less or avoiding them altogether.
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Why Baking Soda Works For Acid Reflux
The key to baking sodas ability to treat acid reflux lies in its active ingredient: sodium bicarbonate. OTC antacids like Alka-Seltzer contain sodium bicarbonate, which is what makes them work.
Your pancreas naturally produces sodium bicarbonate to protect your intestines. Baking soda is thought to mimic the effects of this process. As an absorbable antacid, sodium bicarbonate quickly neutralizes stomach acid and temporarily relieves symptoms of acid reflux.
Caution: The sudden decrease in stomach acidity can cause acid rebound . Relief may only be temporary, and your symptoms of acid reflux may return even worse than before.
The same type of baking soda you use to bake or to absorb smells from your fridge can neutralize stomach acid. Its also cheaper in that form, compared to OTC medications.
For people who dont like the taste of baking soda, there are OTC and prescription tablets. Most of them dissolve easily in water. See the instructions on the box for the recommended dosage.
Some of these other forms include:
Alka-Seltzer is the most common brand-name OTC medication that contains sodium bicarbonate. Sodium bicarbonate is also used in some medications with the PPI omeprazole to make omeprazole more effective, rather than being used for immediate relief of symptoms.
Awesome Natural Remedies For Heartburn
First, there is a gentle hiccup, then a burning feeling across the chest and throat comes along. You might think its heart attack were talking about, but were staying true to ourselves and want to tackle another common digestive issue instead: heartburn. While were sure that many of you already have your ways of getting rid of heartburn symptoms when they strike, we believe there are also several extremely effective strategies and remedies you might not know about yet.
To make sure youre ready next time when a heavy meal starts a fire in your chest, weve compiled a list of ways that will not only teach you how to deal with heartburn but also how to prevent it. Lets go!
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Side Effects Of Antacids
Side effects from antacids are rare. However, they can occur, even when you use them according to the directions.
What Causes Heartburn And What Does It Feel Like Exactly
Stomach acid is needed to break down the food you eat, something your stomach has no trouble handling. Your esophagus, on the other hand, is irritated by it.
To keep stomach acid in your stomach and out of your esophagus, a circular ring of muscle at the tube’s base, called the lower esophageal sphincter, acts as a valve. When this valve is relaxed, food you’ve consumed is allowed to pass through to your stomach. When contracted, this valve prevents this food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.
If this valve relaxes abnormally and stomach acid is allowed to travel back into your esophagus, acid reflux occurs. Heartburn is the most well-known and obvious symptom.
It can feel differently depending on its severity, but heartburn symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in your chest, behind your breastbone
- Burning pain that rises up toward your throat
- Having a bitter or sour taste in your mouth
Acid reflux and heartburn are sometimes caused by an underlying medical condition, or even a medication you’re taking in some cases. But, more often than not, they’re triggered by things like your diet and lifestyle choices making the occasional bout of heartburn fairly common.
Common triggers of heartburn include:
- Overeating or eating too quickly
- Lying down too soon after eating
- Consuming certain foods, including caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, peppermint, citrus, tomato-based products, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
- Being overweight
- Stress and anxiety
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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.
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When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
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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When To See A Gastroenterologist
Sometimes its difficult to know when your symptoms are severe enough that you need to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, and we understand that. Here are some indications that its time to call a gastroenterologist:
- Symptoms that continue for more than two weeks
- Heartburn that persists after taking over-the-counter medications
- Heartburn episodes that change in frequency or intensity
- Nighttime symptoms that affect your sleep quality
- Acid reflux that interferes with your daily activities or affects your quality of life
- Unexplained weight loss or decreased appetite
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Heartburn accompanied by nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic hoarseness or wheezing
If you experience any of the symptoms above, its time to see one of our gastroenterologists. After performing a complete medical exam, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you undergo an upper endoscopy to evaluate your symptoms and see if you have suffered any damage to your esophagus, or provide you with the peace of mind that everything is all right. During your visit, the doctor will examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum to determine the cause of your digestive symptoms and the appropriate treatment.
How A Doctor Can Help
If you have heartburn two or more times a week and changes to your diet or eating pattern haven’t helped, consult a doctor. A gastroenterologist can perform tests to measure the acidity in your stomach and see if frequent acid reflux has damaged your esophagus.
GERD is often treatable through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. But persistent symptoms of reflux need thorough evaluation by a gastroenterologist who can find the underlying cause and discuss available treatment options.
The Johns Hopkins Heartburn Center
GERD is an ongoing condition that often requires more attention than over-the-counter treatments can offer. The Heartburn Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine provides personalized care to help patients find relief.
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What Will Make Heartburn Go Away
Apple cider vinegar has recently become a popular at-home remedy for many ailments.
Because of its high acetic acid content, it may help to aid digestion and break down food.
Unfortunately, there is little to no evidence that it is a safe and effective treatment for indigestion or heartburn.
To be safe, talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before using.
When To Call A Doctor
Antacids can often relieve symptoms of excess stomach acid. However, sometimes these symptoms mean you have a more serious condition.
Antacids can only soothe, not cure, some of the symptoms of these conditions. If you have severe pain that doesnt get better after using the recommended dosage of antacids for two weeks, call your doctor.
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Elevate The Upper Part Of Your Bed
Experiencing persistent heartburn when youre supposed to relax and recharge your batteries is a nuisance like no other. And studies show that a large number of people suffer from this exact problem, experiencing acid reflux symptoms at night and struggling to fall asleep.
Researchers, however, managed to show that there is a way of relieving heartburn symptoms at night, and it is a simple one. Put a wooden board, a block of wood or even a chunky old book under the mattress so that the head of your bed is slightly elevated. You can even buy a bed that has an adjustable upper part.
Elevating the upper part of the bed is effective as a slightly raised position of the upper body makes it hard for the acid to travel back up at night, thus staying in the stomach where it cant hurt the esophagus.
And hey, simply lying on a pillow will not suffice. You need to raise the upper torso to provide heartburn relief, which means putting stuff under the mattress. If you dont have an adjustable bed frame, experiment with improvised systems until you find the best solution
But What Do I Do In Case Of Persistent Heartburn
Sometimes, simple home remedies for acid reflux, like the ones you find in this article, arent enough to help you overcome the issue. If you have to put up with heartburn more than two or even three times per week, its better to visit a doctor.
You need to remember that while occasional heartburn is completely normal, the condition should not interfere with your daily activities, especially on a regular basis. In this case, you might be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, which requires a special kind of treatment. If you are afraid that you might have fallen victim to this digestive condition, here is a quick list of symptoms that shouldnt make you think twice about heading to your GP:
- burning in your chest/heartburn
- sore throat and hoarse voice
- painful or difficult swallowing
- bad breath and acidic taste in the mouth
- green, yellow or even bloody vomit
- throat pain during a meal
- breathing problems
- fast tooth decay
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Top 15 Heartburn Remedies
Just because heartburn is common doesnt mean you have to suffer with it. Left untreated, frequent acid reflux can develop into more serious health problems. Here are the top 15 heartburn remedies
Despite humorous commercials touting heartburn remedies with funny words like plop-plop and fizz-fizz, heartburn is no joke. More than 60 million Americans suffer from it at least occasionally, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, occurs when acidic stomach juices flow backward into the esophagus, irritating the esophageal lining. The resulting pain can be uncomfortable, annoying or excruciating. It can hurt as much as a heart attack, says Paige Hastings, a certified nurse practitioner at The Little Clinic in Nashville, Tenn.But not everyone has such pain you could also feel a bitter or acidic taste in the back of your throat or the awful sensation of food or liquid washing back into your mouth and down the gullet.In fact, frequent heartburn and food sticking in the throat are signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease .Untreated, these problems can lead more serious problems, including strictures , ulcers, cancer and pneumonia, explains Patricia Raymond, MD, a gastroenterologist based in Virginia Beach, Va.
Other Causes Of Morning Heartburn
Although GERD is a common reason for heartburn in the morning, there are other reasons that someone can experience heartburn during this time. Some factors include your activities the night before and lifestyle habits. Other factors include:
- Having a high stress level
- Hiatal hernia
- Wearing tight clothes and belts
- Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus
- Alcoholic beverages
Your healthcare provider can help you create a list of foods to remove and incorporate into your diet that will help treat your GERD symptoms. It is important to work with your healthcare provider, continuing to take your medicineif prescribedand following a plan that will help you have the best outcome regarding your condition.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Heartburn
There are several conditions that can trigger heartburn or make its symptoms even worse. While they usually vary among different individuals, there are some common triggers, for example:
- eating too much at a time and chewing too little
- enjoying a lot of spicy food
- eating foods that are very likely to trigger acid reflux
- sticking to a diet full of fatty meals
- lying down immediately after a big meal
- certain medicines
- drinking alcohol
- wearing tight clothing
Seems too obvious? Youre right there are many more risk factors that can easily contribute to occasional or even persistent heartburn. To equip you with the knowledge you need to effectively treat its symptoms, weve compiled a list of the most effective natural heartburn cures out there.
Ppis Can Change The Way Other Drugs Work
PPIs interact with some common prescription drugs. For example, some PPIs can reduce the blood-thinning effect of the drug Plavix , according to the US Food and Drug Administration. This can increase the risk of heart attack and even death. If you take Plavix, talk to your doctor about whether you should take a PPI.
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Make Sure You’re Taking Medication Correctly
If you dont know how and when to take your meds, call your doctor for specific instructions. Typically, the proton pump inhibitors are given 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast, says David A. Johnson, MD, a professor of medicine and the chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, in Norfolk, Va., and past president of the American College of Gastroenterology.However, some people do better taking two doses a day to stave off nighttime symptoms, he adds.
Vinegar For Heartburn Relief
Heartburn is a condition caused by acid reflux where the acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus tract causing irritation and burning sensation around the affected area. One of the most common reasons for heartburn is the weakened esophageal sphincter muscle where contraction may become loose thereby causing acid reflux. This condition is known as GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease . Read about 3 simple tips on how to get rid of heartburn here. Although there are many home remedies available for heartburn, one of the most widely believed cures that work is by taking vinegar for heartburn.
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Natural Remedy: Use Baking Soda
You may find relief from infrequent heartburn with sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda. Simply mix ½ teaspoon with four ounces of water to help neutralize the acid. Note this contains sodium and should not be used if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Check with your doctor if you are taking any prescriptions drugs, are pregnant or have a chronic health condition before using baking soda to relieve heartburn.
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