Signs That Heartburn Is A Warning Of Something More Serious
Heartburn is often not serious and will go away on its own or with over-the-counter medications. If you have heartburn that occurs with other symptoms, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. These symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath
Increased heart rate
If you have heartburn or chest pain with any of these symptoms, it is important to get immediate medical attention. This is because these symptoms could mean there is a more serious cause that requires urgent treatment.
How To Know If You Have Heartburn Or Something More Serious
Heartburn or acid reflux is a burning sensation experienced in the chest, which occurs when this muscle weakens and the digestive juices from the stomach spill over into the food pipe, causing severe damage. Greater than 60 million adults in America experience heartburn at least once a month and about 15 million suffer with daily symptoms.
Heartburn can be easily treated by:
- Antacids and other medications that reduce stomach acid
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding tight clothes that put pressure on your abdomen
- Avoiding spicy foods, caffeinated beverages and large fatty meals
- Avoiding lying down after a meal, which also means avoiding late meals
- Elevating the head of your bed
- Not smoking
- Relaxation techniques such as massage, gentle exercise and hypnosis
If left untreated frequent acid reflux can weaken the muscle tissue surrounding the esophagus, causing the upper part of your stomach to bulge up through the diaphragm into your chest cavity. This is called hiatal hernia. The development of a hiatal hernia can further damage the lining of the esophagus and even cause cancer.
So, how would you know if that burning sensation in your chest is something you need to worry about? Here are three simple rules you can follow to help you determine the seriousness of your chest pain.
- Condition, Treatment, Specialties
What If Medication Or Lifestyle Changes Don’t Help
Your provider may request more testing if lifestyle changes and medication did not help. These tests include a pH test to check for acid in your esophagus or an endoscopy. This test uses a small tube with a camera and light to see inside of your digestive tract and spot any issues.
MedlinePlus National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases American College of Gastroenterology
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How Is Gerd Treated
Treatment for GERD depends on how severe symptoms are. For some people, treatment may just include lifestyle changes, such as changing what they eat or drink. Others will need to take medicines. In very rare cases, when GERD is particularly severe, a doctor will recommend surgery.
These lifestyle changes can help ease the symptoms of GERD or even prevent the condition:
- quitting smoking
- losing weight if you are overweight
- eating small meals
- avoiding carbonated beverages
- avoiding foods that trigger reflux
It also can help to not lie down for 3 hours after a meal and to not eat 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Doctors sometimes also recommend raising the head of the bed about 6 to 8 inches. Before you start a major bedroom makeover, though, talk to your doctor and your parents about the best sleeping position for you.
If symptoms continue, doctors might prescribe medicine, such as:
- H2 blockers, which can help block the production of stomach acid
- proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid the stomach makes
- prokinetics, which help the esophageal sphincter work better and the stomach empty faster. This can prevent reflux episodes.
When To Connect With Health Care Provider
Dr. Graf said if these tips dont get your symptoms under control, or if youre experiencing regurgitation, you should talk to your primary care provider or a gastroenterologist. Its important to get treatment because GERD symptoms arent just uncomfortable. Acid can damage the lining of your esophagus. And over time that damage can lead to a condition called Barretts esophagus, which makes it more likely that you could develop esophageal cancer.
To put together a treatment plan, your doctor may start with an upper endoscopy. Thats a procedure where youre sedated, and a surgeon puts a scope through your mouth and into your esophagus and stomach to see if the acid has caused any damage. If theres no damage, you can likely have follow-up endoscopies when you have your colonoscopies. You can try prescription medications to control your GERD symptoms.
If your esophagus is damaged or inflamed, or if medication doesnt get your symptoms under control, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgical treatments for GERD are very effective. They can give you significant relief and halt the progression of GERD, Dr. Graf said.
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Why Do I Get Heartburn At Night While Pregnant
Heartburn is common during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can make the valve at the entrance to the stomach relax so that it doesnt close as it should. This lets acidic stomach contents move up into the esophagus, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux , or acid reflux.
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Differentiating Heartburn From Other Diseases
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Are You Poisoning Your Children
Believe it or not, if your child has heartburn its because they are slowly being poisoned by the excessive amounts of carbohydrates in their diet.
Could Your Frequent Heartburn Be Gerd How To Tell And What To Do About It
GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a common disease that affects 10-20% of the population. GERD is a frequent cause for doctors visits and prescription medications, but often can go undiagnosed if you doesnt seek adequate care. The good news is thissimple changes to diet and lifestyle can make a big difference in controlling the symptoms and carrying on with normal life.
Vani Konda, MD, medical director for Baylor Scott & White Center for Esophageal Diseases, answers common questions about GERD and what to do if youre experiencing symptoms.
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When Medications Dont Work Chronic Acid Reflux
Chronic acid reflux cases should be evaluated by one of our board-certified gastroenterologists.
If youâve had persistent acid reflux symptoms for over 5 years, you should see one of our specialists immediately.
Weâll perform thorough testing to determine the health of your esophagus, and then plan out a custom treatment plan. At GCSA, we offer a variety of advanced procedures to diagnose and treat your acid reflux.
Why Do You Get Heartburn
There may be many reasons why you get heartburnâsome of which you can control and some of which you cannot. Dietary and lifestyle habits can increase your risk of developing heartburn, as can certain medications. Individually or in combination, these factors can cause the LES to relax, increase the amount of acid produced in the stomach, raise stomach pressure and/or make the esophagus more sensitive to acid.
Sound complicated? It can beâbut a thoughtful review of your diet, lifestyle and medication regimen can help you get to the bottom of the problem. Follow the links below to learn about common factors that contribute to heartburn.
What and how much you eat
Spicy and greasy foods are common culprits. So are coffee, citrus juices and alcoholic beverages. Eating too much and too quickly are heartburn factors, as is being overweight.
Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes inhibits saliva, one of the bodyâs natural protective barriers against damage to the esophagus. Smoking may also weaken the LES and stimulate acid production.
Note: Talk to your healthcare professional if you think your medications may be contributing to your heartburn. Ask about alternatives, but never stop taking any prescription medication before checking with your doctor.
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What Are The Treatment Options
If you have heartburn, your provider may prescribe over-the-counter antacids, which may come in a chewable tablet. They might also recommend prescription drugs such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors, which reduce how much acid your stomach makes.
Providers may also recommend lifestyle changes, like losing weight and quitting smoking, which can increase stomach acid production. Other changes often include reducing stress, exercising more, avoiding food around bedtime, raising the head of the bed about 6 inches, and eating more high-protein, low-fat meals.
Heartburn And Gerd In Pregnant Women
Heartburn and GERD are commonly associated with pregnancy and can occur in women who may never have had GERD symptoms before. Pregnant women usually experience GERD symptoms around the first trimester. It then worsens in the last trimester. The good news is that when your baby is born, your symptoms usually go away.
Pregnancy can increase levels of the hormone progesterone, which can cause the muscles of the lower esophagus to relax. This makes it more likely that acid will reflux. Increased pressure on the stomach from a growing uterus can also increase a womans likelihood for having GERD.
Symptoms include pain that gets worse after a meal and acid regurgitation. Because the symptoms tend to be temporary, a woman usually doesnt experience the long-term complications associated with GERD, like ongoing inflammation.
Doctors usually avoid prescribing too many medications while a woman is pregnant because the medicine can be passed along to the fetus. Instead, doctors usually recommend making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding foods known to cause acid reflux and sleeping with the head slightly elevated. Taking antacids that contain magnesium, aluminum, and calcium may be permitted. However, antacids with sodium bicarbonate should be avoided in pregnant women because they can affect a womans fluid volumes.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Gerd
Often, people who have GERD notice that they regularly have the pain of heartburn in the chest or stomach. This can last up to a couple of hours. Many notice their heartburn is worse after eating.
Regurgitation when food and liquid containing stomach acid comes back up into the throat or mouth is also a sign of GERD. But, like heartburn, occasional regurgitation is common for everyone.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- a sore, raw throat or hoarse voice
- a frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down
- a feeling of burping acid into the mouth
- trouble swallowing
- bad breath
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.
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Childhood Heartburn A Warning Sign For Your Childs Future Health
It goes without saying that no one wants their child to have heartburn. But I believe the most important aspect of this problem is that a child with heartburn is a child that is progressing towards more serious illnesses in early adulthood.
High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, polycystic ovarian disease, gout, obesity, sleep apnea and all triggered by excessive carbohydrates consumption. These are all illnesses associated with insulin resistance a disorder known to be triggered by excess carbohydrate consumption. Coincidentally, these conditions are becoming increasingly more common in young adults.
Your childs lifelong eating habits and taste preferences are formed when they are young. If your child has heartburn, they are on the fast track to develop these other illnesses as well.
It is imperative you change their eating habits by controlling the foods that come into the house, their choices when eating out and the foods they eat at school. You must take charge because no one else is looking out for them.
Its not too late to change their future. Start today by pledging not to bring any more soda, juices, chips, cookies, fruit rollups, donuts or ice cream into the house. These should be foods that are eaten only infrequently. Save them for the rare celebration.
Your kids dont NEED these foods. Sure they will gripe and complain. But in time, they will adapt and in the process, you will literally save their life in adulthood.
How Is Heartburn Diagnosed
Often all that a health-care professional requires is a thorough history and physical to make the preliminary diagnosis of heartburn. To evaluate if there is any damage and how severe your heartburn is, the doctor my suggest some of the following tests:
- Endoscopy: A flexible scope is passed down the esophagus to examine the esophagus as well as the stomach. Biopsies can be taken if indicated. This lets the doctor see if there is any obvious damage, and also eliminate other reasons for the patient’s symptoms .
- Upper GI series : After drinking a liquid that coats the inside of the digestive tract, X-rays are taken. These X-rays will show the outline of the digestive system.
- Ambulatory pH testing: This test measures the acidity in the esophagus via a small tube that goes through the nose into the stomach.
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Serious Side Effects Of Heartburn
Even if its not a heart attack, heartburn can be serious. Dangerous side effects and complications can result if you dont seek treatment. Some common side effects include:
- Awaking from sleep, especially if youve eaten within two hours of going to bed
- Esophageal cancer: if Barretts esophagus is not treated
- Esophagus erosion: scarring, ulcers and narrowing of the tube
- Barretts esophagus: precancerous condition from chronic acid reflux
- Esophageal strictures and dysphagia: swallowing difficulties due to esophagus damage
When To See A Doctor About Heartburn Vs Indigestion
If your symptoms of heartburn and/or indigestion dont improve after a few weeks of home remedies and preventive measures, see your doctor.
Chronic heartburn or indigestion issues could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. To get to the root of chronic indigestion or heartburn issues, your doctor may order a few tests, including:
- a physical exam of your abdomen
- acid probe tests to measure when stomach acid reaches back into your esophagus
- imaging tests, such as X-rays and endoscopies , to look at your esophagus and stomach
- blood or stool tests to rule out bacterial infections that may be causing indigestion
- pain in your abdomen that doesnt go away
- frequent vomiting
- blood in vomit or stools
- tar-colored stools
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How Can My Doctor Tell If I Have Heartburn Or Acid Reflux
A medical doctor can often diagnose GERD and heartburn by your description of the symptoms your experience.
You may see a gastroenterologist, a medical specialist in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, who may order an upper GI series. This is a series of X-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the intestine often used to rule out other health conditions. An upper GI endoscopy, where a flexible probe with a tiny camera at the end is passed down your throat to see the esophagus. This helps diagnose how severe your acid reflux is, and can also rule out other health complications.
If your symptoms are not clearly from acid reflux, your doctor may perform other tests to rule out important conditions like heart attack, ulcers, lung problems, esophagus problems, and gastritis.