What Kinds Of Complications Are Caused By Frequent Heartburn
- Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing .
- Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
- Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage . A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
- If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.
Not All Of Them Are Obvious
Feel like you just cant keep that nasty stuff in your belly from bubbling up into your throat? What youre experiencing might not be run-of-the-mill heartburn. It could be a case of gastroesophageal reflux diseaseGERD, for shorta condition that causes the acid and food in your stomach to rise into your esophagus, and sometimes even enter your mouth or lungs. GERD is far from rare: In fact, it occurs in 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to the medical journal Gastroenterology. But there are also several factors that make some people an easier target for the disease.
Everyone has a small, normal amount of gastroesophageal reflux, but an abnormal amount of acid reflux occurs when the one-way valve between the esophagus and the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, becomes too loose, says Ketan Shah, M.D., gastroenterologist at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. This can occur for multiple reasons that cause intra-abdominal pressure to be abnormally elevated, including being overweight or obese, frequent overeating, lying down too soon after eating, chronic straining or coughing, or chronic heavy lifting. These are typically the people who are more susceptible to GERD.
Heartburn won’t go away
Heart Attack Feeling
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?
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How Is Esophageal Cancer Classified
Most cancers are grouped by stage, a description of the cancer that aids in planning treatment. The stage of a cancer is based on the location and depth of the tumor the involvement, if any, of the lymph nodes and the degree that the cancer has spread, if at all, to other tissue and organs.
In addition to staging the cancer, tumors may also be graded. Grading is a way of rating a tumor based on how much its cells look and act like normal cells. Tumor grading can also tell the doctor how fast the tumor is growing. Tumors with almost normal-looking cells that grow slowly are called low-grade tumors. Tumors with very abnormal-looking cells that divide rapidly are called high-grade tumors. High-grade tumors are more likely to spread than low-grade tumors.
If You Or Your Child Has Trouble Swallowing
If you’ve had heartburn or acid reflux for so long that you have trouble swallowing, then it’s a sign that damage to the esophagus has been building for awhile. The esophagus may be inflamed, scarred or full of ulcers, indicating esophageal cancer. Other symptoms to be on the look out for include nausea and vomiting, particularly if you’re vomiting blood.
It’s important to note that children can suffer from heartburn and acid reflux as well. Unless you have an extremely advanced child, he or she probably won’t be able to put the discomfort into words, so take note if a baby experiences trouble swallowing. Other signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease in children are repeated regurgitation, asthmalike symptoms, frequent arching of the back and irritability after feedings. The good news? Many infants and children outgrow the condition, though don’t sit around and wait for them to do so: See a doctor.
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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.
How And When To Take Antacids
Check the instructions on the packet or leaflet to see how much antacid to take and how often. This depends on the exact medicine youre taking.
Antacids should be used when you have symptoms or think you will get them soon for most people, the best time to take them is with or soon after meals, and just before going to bed.
Remember that doses for children may be lower than for adults.
Contact a GP or pharmacist, or call NHS 111, if you take too much of the medicine and start to feel unwell.
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Avoid Spicy Foods And Keep Some Dazzle In Your Diet With Low
The fiery feeling of heartburn is the last way you want to remember a great meal. But when your doctor says you have chronic heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease , you may worry that a bland and disappointing menu is in your future. “That may not be true,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “The foods that trigger heartburn are different for everyone.” He suggests keeping a journal to determine which foods cause symptoms.
Some foods and ingredients may intensify heartburn, such as spicy foods, citrus, tomato sauces, and vinegar.
Fatty and fried foods linger longer in the stomach. That may increase stomach pressure and force open the muscles that keep stomach acid out of the esophagus.
Other common heartburn triggers include chocolate, caffeine, onions, peppermint, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.
What Else Should I Know
Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce or even stop uncomfortable GERD symptoms. Untreated GERD can cause permanent damage to the esophagus.
You’ll probably find that one of the simplest ways to make living with GERD easier is to avoid the things that trigger your symptoms. Some people will have to limit certain foods others may have to give them up entirely. It all depends on your symptoms.
It can be hard to give up sodas or favorite foods at first. But after a while, lots of people discover that they feel so much better that they don’t miss the problem foods as much as they thought they would.
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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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Signs You Should See The Doctor For Your Heartburn
There’s nothing pleasant about heartburn, which manifests itself as burning pain in the chest. Even a written description of why heartburn occurs is unpleasant: It happens when stomach acid is regurgitated back up through the upper body thanks to an esophageal sphincter not closing at the right time. To many of us, heartburn seems like just another unpleasant thing to endure, much like taxes, rush hour traffic and the contents of a baby’s diaper. For this reason, heartburn is often considered the Rodney Dangerfield of conditions, because it gets no respect. Most people don’t take it seriously enough to put down the over-the-counter medications and speak to their doctor about it. So when should you bite the bullet and make an appointment with your doctor?
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When Is Heartburn Considered Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Its that familiar burning or painful sensation in the chest that pretty much everyone has experienced often enough to immediately declare it a case of heartburn. However, some people arent sure if what the heartburn they feel is normal or a more serious, common condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
What Are The Symptoms Of Gerd
Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD. Heartburn is described as a burning chest pain. It begins behind the breastbone and moves up to the neck and throat. It can last as long as 2 hours. It is often worse after eating. Lying down or bending over after a meal can also lead to heartburn.
Children younger than age 12 will often have different GERD symptoms. They will have a dry cough, asthma symptoms, or trouble swallowing. They wont have classic heartburn.
Each child may have different symptoms. Common symptoms of GERD include:
- Burping or belching
- Having a rattling in the chest
- Having a sore throat in the morning
- Having a sour taste in the mouth
- Having bad breath
- Loss or decay of tooth enamel
GERD symptoms may seem like other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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Understanding The Oesophagus And Stomach
When we eat, food passes down the gullet into the stomach. Cells in the lining of the stomach make acid and other chemicals which help to digest food. Stomach cells also make mucus which protects them from damage from the acid. The cells lining the oesophagus are different and have little protection from acid.
There is a circular band of muscle at the junction between the oesophagus and stomach. This relaxes to allow food down but then normally tightens up and stops food and acid leaking up into the oesophagus. In effect, the sphincter acts like a valve.
Acid Reflux and Oesophagitis
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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Why Do I Get Heartburn When I Havent Eaten: The Nine Reasons
Growing up, you probably heard your parents talk about heartburn when it would affect them.
Unfortunately, as you age, at some point, it started to affect you, too.
Heartburn is something that nearly everyone in the world has experienced at one time or another, and usually, people know what they ate that caused them that kind of grief.
Typically, we link heartburn to foods that we eat and the beverages we consume.
Sometimes, though, unique situations can occur, and you will get heartburn that leaves you wondering, Why do I get heartburn when I havent eaten anything that might have triggered it?
At the very minimum, we assume that the parts of our body that cause heartburn are only in action whenever our body is processing food.
What is going on when we get heartburn when we havent eaten?
We will give you nine potential reasons why the fiery feeling is plaguing you in your chest despite not having eaten anything.
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Tips To Keep Heartburn On The Backburner
To prevent occasional bouts of heartburn, try taking the following five steps:
1. Avoid eating within three hours of the time you go to bed.
2. Take any acid suppressant medication, such as a proton pump inhibitor, first thing in the morning. “Because of the way proton pump inhibitor-type medications activate, it’s not helpful to take these medications at night on an empty stomach,” says Brown.
3. Sleep on a slight incline, with your head elevated, and/or sleep on your left side. If you have chronic heartburn, falling asleep in the wrong position enables acid to sneak into the esophagus. Keeping your head raised slightly keeps that from happening. Studies have also found that while sleeping on the right side actually aggravates heartburn, flipping over to your left side is likely to calm it, although the reason why is unknown.
4. Avoid foods that may cause acid reflux, such as peppermint, coffee and chocolate. “Interestingly, spicy foods haven’t been shown to cause heartburn,” says Brown. “And there’s some evidence that spicy foods may actually protect the body from ulcers.”
5. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, quit. Not only does smoking relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to move up into the esophagus where it doesn’t belong, but it also can slow the production of saliva, which protects against acid in the esophagus.
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What Can You Do About Your Heartburn
A good rule of thumb is to seek medical attention if you have more than two episodes of heartburn a week especially if you notice difficulty swallowing, weight loss or anemia, Dr. Gabbard says.
Your doctor may help you lose weight or adjust your medications.
A change in blood pressure medicine may help reduce your heartburn symptoms, for instance. Or your doctor may suggest a proton pump inhibitor such as Prilosec OTC® or Nexium® to help control your GERD.
If your heartburn is worse at night, changing your sleeping position may help. Dr. Gabbard recommends using a body pillow or sleep-positioning device that helps keep you on your left side with your head elevated.
Finally, he has a warning for men over 50 who have chronic heartburn.
If at least two of these conditions apply you are Caucasian, have abdominal obesity, are a former or current smoker you may have a higher risk for Barretts esophagus, a precancerous condition that can lead to esophageal cancer.
Even if you are feeling fine, you should see your doctor. He or she may recommend a one-time scope examination to make sure there are no signs of the condition.
There is no pill to strengthen and restore your sphincter muscle to its younger days. But you can work with your doctor to reduce that burning sensation as you age.
Diagnosis Of Heartburn In Teenagers
Heartburn can be diagnosed based on the symptoms and medical history of your teen. If dietary changes and medications do not improve it, your doctor may order tests to confirm the cause of heartburn. It can be :
- Radiography : This is a visualization of the esophagus under an x-ray with the help of contrast liquid. Your teen should swallow contrast liquid, such as barium, during this procedure. This method helps to identify structural defects in the esophagus. Contrast may cause nausea and light-colored stool, but it is not something to worry about.
- Esophageal impedance and pH monitoring: This test helps to identify the acid reflux using specific tubes.
- Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy: This test could give clear information about esophageal tissue damages from acid and sphincter function. Your doctor may also collect samples for biopsy during endoscopy. Usually, endoscopy is done in severe and moderate cases of heartburn.
Doctors may order blood tests, breath tests, and stool tests to exclude helicobacter pylori infection that could cause heartburn. The infection is often caused due to the consumption of contaminated food or water.
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