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.
Get Rid Of Severe Heartburn Pain With Acid
This may sound like something that could be counterproductive, but it really does work. How can ingesting more acid act as a severe heartburn relief? Well, the reason can be found in the nature of most acid reflux problems. See, acid reflux usually isnt caused by a surplus of stomach acid but rather a malfunction of your LES . If its a temporary problem caused by various factors , you can actually help it by ingesting acidic foods or liquids. Apple cider vinegar usually work the best. One or two spoonful stirred in a glass of water and you will be golden.
Dont Eat Within Three Hours Of Going To Bed
People with acid reflux are generally advised to avoid eating within the three hours before they go to sleep.
Although this recommendation makes sense, there is limited evidence to back it up.
One study in GERD patients showed that having a late evening meal had no effects on acid reflux, compared to having a meal before 7 p.m. .
However, an observational study found that eating close to bedtime was associated with significantly greater reflux symptoms when people were going to sleep .
More studies are needed before solid conclusions can be made about the effect of late evening meals on GERD. It may also depend on the individual.
Observational studies suggest that eating close to bedtime may worsen acid reflux symptoms at night. Yet, the evidence is inconclusive and more studies are needed.
Also Check: What In Coffee Causes Heartburn
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.
Common Symptoms Of Heartburn/acid Reflux/gerd
- A burning sensation in the chest and upper abdomen, particularly after eating a meal
- The feeling of throwing up in your mouth, or the taste of a sour acidic liquid being regurgitated in your throat
- The sensation of food being stuck in your throat
- Unrelenting, long-lasting hiccups
- Dry cough, often caused by the feeling of needing to clear something stuck in your throat
- A feeling that food is not settling down into your stomach, leaving you feeling uncomfortably full
If youre feeling these symptoms more than once or twice a week, if you experience them often while sleeping, if you find yourself needing to take antacids or other heartburn medication multiple times during a normal week, or if thing like over the counter antacids arent helping to calm the symptoms of your acid reflux, you may have GERD and you should consult a doctor to get long-term relief.
Now if your symptoms are less serious or frequent, keep reading to discover some of my best tips for stopping heartburn with things you already have in your home!
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What Is The Quickest Heartburn Remedy
Over-the-counter antacids, like Tums, Mylanta, or Rolaids, which work by neutralizing stomach acid, are a good option for fast, short-term relief of mild heartburn. However, antacids, along with other over-the-counter medications like H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors , are not meant to be used for long-term support.
Cut Back On Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is shown to cause some people to have increased instances of heartburn. Its thought that this is because alcohol consumption can relax the sphincter muscle.
However, alcohol does cause heartburn in some people, while not in others. If youre one of the people that suffer from heartburn after drinking alcohol, there are steps you can take.
First, cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. Keeping it to one or two drinks can help minimize heartburn symptoms in some people.
Second, try not to drink alcohol two to three hours before bed. Lying down after drinking alcohol makes it easier for the sphincter muscle to relax, thereby promoting heartburn.
Also, different types of alcohol can affect heartburn sufferers in different ways. Some people may only get heartburn by drinking beer. Others may experience symptoms only when drinking wine or hard liquor.
Work to identify which types of alcohol trigger heartburn symptoms in your body and try your best to avoid them.
Also Check: Heartburn Chest And Back Pain
What Are You Going To Do To Cure Your Heartburn
Are you simply going to treat the heartburn with short-term remedies or are you going to attack the real underlying problem that is driving your symptoms? I suspect that the larger long-term recommendations are a bit intimidating and you are not sure if you can make that type of commitment. You are not alone.
Here is an approach that may help you ease into building your path to relief and good health:
We know you can do this because so many others before you have succeeded. Dont delay, this is your disease and its your quality of life that is at risk. You can do this!
This article is from Reflux MD
Medical Resources Used for This Article
How To Get Rid Of Bad Heartburn
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What Are The Health Consequences Of Gerd
Chronic reflux and GERD can cause serious complications. These include inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus, scar tissue that narrows the esophagus, spasms affecting the airway, chronic cough, damage to teeth, and exacerbated asthma symptoms.
In about 10-20% of cases of GERD, damage to the esophagus from stomach acid becomes a condition called Barrett esophagus. Barrett esophagus is considered to be the primary risk factor for esophageal cancer although not everyone with the condition develops cancer.
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Be Careful What You Drink
Alcohol, coffee and whole milk can all lead to heartburn, as can peppermint tea. Sodas and carbonated drinks may relax the LES and make your stomach acid more acidic, increasing your risk of heartburn. Highly acidic citrus juices such as orange and grapefruit can also cause acid reflux and heartburn in some people.xiii
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Avoid Smoking And Consuming Alcohol
According to the National Library of Medicine, several studies have found a connection between nicotine, alcohol, and heartburn symptoms. Some studies of nicotine use have cited exacerbated heartburn symptoms as smoking causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, and as a result, allow stomach acid to flow into the esophagus causing heartburn.
What Are Some Ways To Sleep Better With Heartburn
Creating a sleep hygiene routine that is easy and comfortable to follow may also help improve your sleep. Taking steps such as setting a sleep schedule, creating a quiet, dark bedroom environment, and avoiding eating in the hours before you go to sleep might help. Choose pajamas that are loose around the waist to prevent any restriction around the stomach that could impact your heartburn symptoms.
Recommended Reading: How Do I Know I Have Heartburn
Dont Wear Tight Clothing
Tight clothing can put extra pressure on your midsection. This extra pressure can increase your chances of experiencing heartburn.
Wearing tight bras, pants or shirts can all put pressure on your midsection, so try and wear comfortable clothing. If anything you wear makes you feel squeezed in or if youre keeping those Ill lose weight someday clothes, replace them with clothing that fits more comfortably.
Or, if you experience heartburn, think for a moment about what youre wearing and check your comfort level. Sometimes we dont even realize when were wearing too-tight clothing.
Bonus Hint: Sitting up straight during your waking hours can put less pressure on your midsection as well. Beware of your posture and sit up straight when possible.
Dont Drink Too Much Citrus Juice
In a study of 400 GERD patients, 72% reported that orange or grapefruit juice worsened their acid reflux symptoms .
The acidity of citrus fruits doesnt appear to be the only factor contributing to these effects. Orange juice with a neutral pH also appears to aggravate symptoms .
Since citrus juice doesnt weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, it is likely that some of its constituents irritate the lining of the esophagus (
While citrus juice probably doesnt cause acid reflux, it can make your heartburn temporarily worse.
Most patients with acid reflux report that drinking citrus juice makes their symptoms worse. Researchers believe citrus juice irritates the lining of the esophagus.
Also Check: What Foods Help Prevent Heartburn
What Does Heartburn Feel Like
Heartburn typically feels like a burning in the center of your chest, behind your breastbone. When you have heartburn, you may also feel symptoms like:
- A burning feeling in your chest that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
- Pain in your chest when you bend over or lay down.
- A burning feeling in your throat.
- A hot, sour, acidic or salty taste in the back of your throat.
- Difficulty swallowing.
What About Coffee For Heartburn
Get ready for some bad news: For many people, a morning cup of coffee is a strong heartburn trigger. While theres no hard medical research that coffee causes heartburn, theres enough anecdotal evidence that its best to steer clear if you cant identify the source of your discomfort. Or cut it out for a day or two to see how your body reacts. If eliminating coffee eases your symptoms, caffeine may be a trigger. Try decaf instead or one of these caffeine alternatives.
Also Check: What Does It Mean To Have Heartburn All The Time
Avoid Tight Fitting Clothes
Things cinched tightly about your waist or middle can worsen heartburn. If you have super tight jeans on, when you sit down, the waistband is going to sink into your abdomen region. Same goes for tight belts-and even shirts can be a problem for some. This is because all of the above puts extra pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter, which make it more likely stomach contents, will push through and youll experience reflux.
Limit Your Intake Of Carbonated Beverages
Patients with GERD are sometimes advised to limit their intake of carbonated beverages.
One observational study found that carbonated soft drinks were associated with increased acid reflux symptoms .
Also, controlled studies show that drinking carbonated water or cola temporarily weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, compared to drinking plain water .
The main reason is the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated beverages, which causes people to belch more often an effect that can increase the amount of acid escaping into the esophagus .
Carbonated beverages temporarily increase the frequency of belching, which may promote acid reflux. If they worsen your symptoms, try drinking less or avoiding them altogether.
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What The Experts Say
Elevating your head during sleep can be an effective lifestyle change for GERD.
You can also insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up if it isnt possible to elevate the head of your bed. But just using additional ordinary pillows isnt effective.
Other lifestyle remedies for acid reflux and GERD include:
- eating smaller meals
Can Bananas Relieve Heartburn
Some fruits are acidic and can trigger heartburn, but others may provide relief. Bananas are a low-acid fruit. They can help soothe your irritated esophageal lining and are high in fiber, which helps keep your digestive tract healthy. Beyond bananas, honeydew melons and cantaloupe are also good for heartburn. They contain magnesium, an ingredient in many over-the-counter heartburn medicines. Eat them on their own or add them to a smoothie.
Also Check: Natural Ways To Deal With Heartburn
Is It Just Heartburn Or Gerd
Frequent heartburn can be a major issue. If you experience heartburn two or more times a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease .
In this chronic condition, frequent exposure to stomach acid irritates and damages the esophagus. Over time, that can lead to problems such as difficulty swallowing. An estimated 40 percent of Americans report symptoms of GERD but the condition can significantly improve with lifestyle changes.
If you’ve tried home remedies and lifestyle adjustments and still have frequent heartburn, consult with your family doctor or a gastroenterologist. There are multiple treatments that can help, including medications and minimally invasive surgery for acid reflux.
Manage Your Nighttime Diet
The most common cause of heartburn at bedtime is overeating. If you consume a large meal in the evening and then lie down, pressure on the LES can force the stomachs contents into the esophagus. But its not only the quantity of food that causes heartburn. Certain types of food make heartburn more likely to occur. Many people suffer from heartburn after consuming spicy or fatty foods. Coffee and wine can also result in heartburn.
To reduce the impact of nighttime heartburn, eat smaller meals earlier in the eveningat least two hours before lying down to sleepto allow time for digestion.
Keep a journal of what you eat and whether it causes heartburn. Avoid trigger foods that seem to make heartburn worse.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Heartburn At Night
Increased Risk Of Infection
As I discussed above, stomach acid serves as a first-line defense against pathogens. The ideal pH for the stomach can approach 1 but should be below 3, where most pathogens cannot survive. When the pH rises above 5, several dangerous bacterial species are able to survive.
Acid-blockers can increase the stomachs pH and worsen the risk of a bacterial infection. In one study, Tagamet and Zantac, two H2 blockers, raised the stomach pH from 12 to 5.5 and 6.5, respectively. PPIs can raise the pH even more. In one study, a 20- or 40-mg dose of Prilosec reduced stomach acid levels to almost zeroand increased the pH to almost 7in 10 healthy men.
Without stomach acid, pathogens can thrive. Oral bacteria such as the genus Rothia are over-represented in the gut microbiota of PPI users, indicating that bacteria entering the through mouth are better able to survive in the stomach.
Compared to people on other medications, PPI users have a greater risk of acquiring infectious bacteria like:
- Clostridium difficile
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is another possible result of PPI usage. SIBO can inhibit nutrient absorption, damage the bowel lining, and cause diarrhea and other GI symptoms. One research study found that 50 percent of PPI users tested positive for SIBO through the hydrogen breath test, compared to only 6 percent of non-users. Meta-analyses have mostly confirmed this association.