What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.
I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they don’t seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually can’t stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.
What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?
Try any or all of the following:
Will these changes stop the heartburn?
They may. If they don’t, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids don’t work?
If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.
What are acid blockers?
When You Have A Cough That Just Won’t Go Away
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.
How To Know When To Seek Medical Attention For Heartburn
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a board certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care.There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 359,516 times.
Heartburn is a common condition that causes an unpleasant burning sensation in the throat and chest. In most cases, heartburn is temporary and usually goes away on its own. No treatment is needed aside from some steps to relieve the discomfort it causes. But sometimes heartburn may indicate a more serious disease or problem. That is why it is important to know when heartburn is normal and when to see a doctor. Keep reading to learn when to seek medical attention for your heartburn.
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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 .
If You’re Taking Prescription Medicines
Speak to your GP if you’re taking medicine for another condition, such as antidepressants, and you think it may be making your indigestion worse. They may be able to prescribe an alternative medicine.
Never stop taking a prescribed medicine unless you’re advised to do so by your GP or another qualified healthcare professional who’s responsible for your care.
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Otc Medicines For Heartburn
If changes to your lifestyle dont ease your nighttime heartburn, over-the-counter medications may do the trick, Cheskin says. The tried and true treatments the ones your mom always gave you are antacids, which neutralize the acid in the stomach. These include liquids like Maalox or Mylanta, and solid tablets like Rolaids or Tums. They can be very effective, Cheskin says, but the problem is that you have to take them more frequently, since they only last a couple of hours.
But Spechler is skeptical. In cases of GERD that are bad enough to require them, he thinks that medicine is usually more effective and easier to live with. Frankly, Spechler says, unless the condition is especially severe, or theres some very compelling reason why a person shouldnt take medicine, I dont see any reason to torture patients with very tight dietary restrictions or elevating the head of the bed.
Studies show that over-the-counter medications can help with symptoms in 60% to 70% of people with chronic heartburn or GERD.
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Reasons For Getting Heartburn Every Day
Heartburn that happens occasionally is considered normal, but when we start experiencing it daily, it becomes a major problem.
READ MORE :
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Will Heartburn Go Away On Its Own
For many people, occasional heartburn is common. By watching what you eat and avoiding certain triggers , you may be able to prevent heartburn or manage it. If you find that you frequently experience heartburn and that it keeps getting worse, it could be a sign of a medical condition like GERD. In these cases, your heartburn will not go away without treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider so that you can develop a treatment plan.
What Causes Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is caused by weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter . Normally this valve closes tightly after food enters your stomach. If it relaxes when it shouldnt, your stomach contents rise back up into the esophagus.
Stomach acids flow back up into the esophagus, causing reflux.
Factors that can lead to this include:
- Too much pressure on the abdomen. Some pregnant women experience heartburn almost daily because of this increased pressure.
- Particular types of food and eating habits.
- Medications that include medicines for asthma, high blood pressure and allergies as well as painkillers, sedatives and anti-depressants.
- A hiatal hernia. The upper part of the stomach bulges into the diaphragm, getting in the way of normal intake of food.
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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.
Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.
When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
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What Do I Do If I Think I Have Gerd
With GERD when reflux and heartburn happen more than once in a while the tissue lining your esophagus is getting battered regularly with stomach acid. Eventually the tissue becomes damaged. If you have this chronic acid reflux and heartburn you can see its affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.
When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isnt life-threatening in itself, its chronic inflammation of the esophagus can lead to something more serious. You may need stronger prescription medications or even surgery to ease your symptoms.
How Do I Know Im Having Heartburn And Not A Heart Attack
Chest pain caused by heartburn may make you afraid youre having a heart attack. Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, but since the discomfort is in your chest it may be hard to know the difference while its going on. But symptoms of a heart attack are different than heartburn.
Heartburn is that uncomfortable burning feeling or pain in your chest that can move up to your neck and throat. A heart attack can cause pain in the arms, neck and jaw, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms.
If your heartburn medication doesnt help and your chest pain is accompanied by these symptoms, call for medical attention right away.
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Don’t Lay Flat When You Sleep
Lying down flat presses the stomach’s contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure.
You can elevate your head in a couple of ways:
- Place bricks, blocks, or anything that’s sturdy and securely under the legs at the head of your bed,
- Use a wedge-shaped pillow under your head and shoulders.
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.
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Heartburn The Most Obvious But Not The Only Symptom
I see kids almost every week who are experiencing the symptoms of heartburn. This is not a harmless condition but a harbinger of illness yet to come. And kids with heartburn often experience other signs of carbohydrate neurotoxicity as well.
Many have to urinate frequently, a sign of poor neurological control of bladder emptying. They may experience headaches, poor concentration, and fatigue while sitting in class, a sign of poor blood flow regulation to the brain.
Parents are often surprised when I get their children to admit to a variety of other symptoms once I hear about their heartburn. Kids dont complain much and just seem to suffer through it.
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.
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How Can I Decrease My Heartburn
Often, GERD symptoms occur because of diet or obesity. Eliminating carbonated beverages, caffeine, and fatty or spicy foods can help reduce the frequency of heartburn. Losing weight may also help. Some people may find relief with over-the-counter antacids, although they should not be considered a long-term solution. Anyone with persistent heartburn needs to have their condition diagnosed.
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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Gerd: A Symptom Checklist
When you see your doctor, talking through your symptoms is nearly as accurate in diagnosing GERD as the tests we have, Richter says. Are the classic symptoms there? If the answer to that question is yes, its probably GERD.
What are those classic symptoms? Heres a checklist that will help you gauge your reflux troubles:
- Do you suffer from heartburn symptoms more than two or three times a week?
- Do the symptoms feel like a burning under your breastbone?
- Do your symptoms often get worse after eating?
- Are you taking antacids after every meal to minimize symptoms? Do they help?
- Do you feel a burning chest pain when exercising?
- Are your symptoms worse when you lie down?
- Do you often taste a faint sense of acid in your mouth?
- Do you have trouble sleeping at night?
- Do you have asthma that is made worse when youre having heartburn?
- Does your voice get scratchy when you have heartburn?
- Is heartburn interfering with your quality of life?
Answering yes to one or more of these questions might mean you have GERD. Make an appointment to see your doctor.
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Do I Need To Visit My Doctor About My Heartburn
If youre experiencing heartburn every once in a while, youre probably ok to go without a visit to Cary Gastroenterology. There are over the counter medications you can take that should give you relief pretty quickly. Over the counter medications are not intended for long term use and, should you find yourself taking them frequently, you should do so under the supervision of a physician. If you start to notice that youre experiencing the pain more often or that its getting increasingly more uncomfortable, make an appointment to come see us. There are a number of things we can recommend that dont require medication, including weight loss, an adjustment in diet and exercise, changes in medications, and even different sleeping positions.
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