What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is when someone has reflux more than twice a week. It’s a more serious condition than GER. Doctors usually treat it with medicine.
GERD can be a problem if it’s not treated because, over time, the reflux of stomach acid damages the tissue lining the esophagus, causing inflammation and pain. In adults, long-lasting, untreated GERD can lead to permanent damage of the esophagus.
Salt And Salted Foods
Salted foods are considered a cause of heartburn and acid reflux.
To be more precise, their damaging action is more effective in some people, who are at high risk because of their eating habits .
Salt and salted foods are then a perfect example of what weve said before. A disease is a battle between the bodys defense system and the attacking agent.
In this case, it has been reported that people with good health are much less sensitive to the damaging action of salted foods.
While in the presence of other factors, things may be different.
What To Do Next
Now that you have a better idea of the causes of heartburn, its time to take a step forward.
If you are concerned about the relationships between PPIs and COVID-19, you can read here to keep informed and safe.
To do so, we strongly suggest checking the recommended resources below.
Here you can find the current best options to get rid of acid reflux, by working on the determining causes and risk factors.
This is very important because when dealing with heartburn and reflux you should not focus the attention on symptoms alone, even though they are crucial to your quality of life.
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Heartburn Caused By Drink
Avoiding coffee and caffeinated beverages such as sports energy drinks can help reduce the risk of heartburn. It’s best to moderate alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine, which can increase stomach acid levels. Alcohol has also been shown to relax the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. The LES acts as a barrier between your food pipe and your stomach. By not closing fully after food has entered the stomach, acid can travel up the esophagus, sparking common heartburn symptoms.4 Drinking carbonated drinks can also increase heartburn, especially at night.
Heartburn Or Heart Attack
A heart attack is when the arteries connected to the heart become blocked. Heartburn, on the other hand, occurs when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus.
Some symptoms of heartburn and a heart attack could be similar, such as chest pain. As a result, some people who are having a heart attack do not take action as they think they have heartburn.
If a person experiences heartburn pain alongside shortness of breath or sweating, this could be a heart-related issue.
Other symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- discomfort in the chest, such as squeezing, fullness, pressure, or pain
- pain or discomfort in one or both arms, stomach, neck, jaw, or back
If a person has some or all of these symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention. In the words of the American Heart Association , If in doubt, check it out.
Knowing how to distinguish a heart attack from heartburn can save lives.
What Causes Heartburn In Pregnancy
Pregnancy time deserves a special mention when discussing heartburn and acid reflux.
You can find more info in our dedicated article, however, its important to cover the basics.
The main factor for the onset of heartburn during pregnancy is the increased abdominal pressure.
This event causes much more effects than simple heartburn, however, the reason is this one.
In association with nausea and vomiting, heartburn during pregnancy has to be considered a common event.
In addition, there is sufficient evidence to say that heartburn during pregnancy does not appear to adversely affect the outcome of pregnancy. The same is for vomiting and nausea.
Scientific literature explains that women with a personal story of heartburn are more likely to develop it during pregnancy.
Last, but not least, women with heartburn during pregnancy are more predisposed to early postpartum heartburn.
When Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Heartburn
Have a conversation with your doctor as soon as you start noticing heartburn symptoms that recur often, since they may indicate youre experiencing GERD or another disorder. If youre unable to manage your symptoms with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medication, talk to your doctor about the next steps. If you are experiencing pain in your chest, seek medical intervention immediately to rule out any other illnesses.
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What Can Trigger Heartburn
Heartburn can be triggered by many different things that are a part of your daily life. For many people, heartburn can be caused by certain eating and lifestyle habits. These habits can involve things like eating large portions of food, eating too close to bedtime or even having high stress levels.
Certain foods and drinks can also trigger heartburn for some people. Some foods and drinks that could trigger your heartburn can include:
- Caffeinated beverages.
- Carbonated beverages.
Your lifestyle habits can also play a part in why you might experience heartburn. These everyday factors often contribute to medical conditions that cause heartburn, like GERD or hiatal hernia. Some lifestyle habits that can trigger your heartburn include:
- Being overweight.
- Having a high stress level.
- Wearing tight clothes and belts.
If I Have Heartburn Should I See My Health Care Professional
That depends. If a person has heartburn more than three times a week for at least two weeks, he or she should see a health care professional. On the other hand, if a person only has occasional bouts of heartburn, he or she may find that taking nonprescription antacids and making some simple changes in lifestyle can resolve the heartburn. If these measures do not help, then a visit to a health care professional is warranted.
If a person has any of these symptoms, with or without heartburn, call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department right away:
- Throwing up blood or passing blood in bowel movements
- Severe pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Difficulty swallowing
With proper understanding of the condition and treatment, relief can be attained.
When I have chest pain, how can I tell whether it is my heart or just heartburn?
Sometimes a person can’t tell the difference. Just like chest pain from the heart, heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, arms, or back. If a person has chest pain for any reason, seek medical care immediately.
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How Can I Prevent Heartburn
Follow these tips to prevent heartburn:
- Avoid foods or activities that may cause your symptoms.
- You can also take an over-the-counter medication, such as a chewable antacid tablet, before you eat to prevent heartburn before symptoms start.
- Ginger snacks or ginger tea are also helpful home remedies that you can buy in many stores.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Try to avoid snacking late at night. Instead, stop eating at least four hours before bedtime.
- Rather than two or three large meals, eat smaller meals more frequently to ease the impact on your digestive system.
Last medically reviewed on March 16, 2016
Do Certain Activities Cause Heartburn
High-impact sports, such as running, rowing, high intensity interval training, and powerlifting, as well as activities that are done while the body is inverted or flat, like swimming or yoga, can cause heartburn or make it worse . Heartburn is caused by a loosening of the lower esophageal muscle. Exercises that push the stomach or keep the body from being upright may contribute to heartburn and GERD.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. If you struggle with heartburn, opt for lower impact, upright activities, like walking, light jogging or easy cycling. If you prefer to engage in high-intensity workouts, it could help to adjust when you eat. Try to eat a few hours before your workout to prevent heartburn.
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Symptoms Can Last Up To Several Hours After Onset
Heartburn involves a burning, painful sensation behind your breastbone in the center of your chest.
This pain often gets worse after you eat, in the evening, when you bend over, or when you lie down.
Episodes of heartburn can last between a few minutes and several hours.
In addition to burning sensations in your chest, heartburn may also involve:
- A burning sensation in your throat
- Fluid in your throat that tastes bitter, sour, or salty
- Difficulty swallowing
- A sense that food is stuck in your chest or lower throat
Heartburn often begins after youve eaten a large meal, but it can also be triggered by certain foods even if you dont eat very much.
You’re Eating Dinner Too Late At Night
It’s not just what foods you eat, but also when you eat them that can contribute to whether you experience heartburn. “A major culprit is the displacement of dinnertime to later evening hours, often after 7 p.m. and frequently including a gargantuan meal consisting of fatty foods, chocolate, and/or wine,” says Morton Tavel, MD, clinical professor at Indiana University School of Medicine and author of Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks: A Physician’s Advice. “These all contribute to delayed emptying of the stomach together with increased acid production.”
If you want to avoid the heartburn that you’re all too familiar with at night, Tavel suggests moving your dinnertime to before 7 p.m. as well as reducing the size of your evening meal. If eating earlier just isn’t plausible, then try to eat at least three hours before you plan to hit the hay.
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Waking Up With Heartburn In The Middle Of The Night
The night is one of the most crucial moments in the life of a person with heartburn.
Sleeping on the left side can help, because by doing so we prevent the flow of acid content to ascend along the esophagus.
Totally different things if a person sleeps on the right side: in this case, the acid content can move easily and heartburn doesnt take long to manifest itself.
In such cases, the sensation of waking up in the middle of the night is common, and this fact limits a lot the quality of sleep.
To better understand, we can analyze sleep-related gastroesophageal reflux.
The final result is that nighttime heartburn may indicate a more clinically significant condition.
Thats why people suffering from heartburn at night must be even more careful to avoid causes and limit risk factors.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux , also called reflux, is when food and acid from the stomach go back up into the esophagus. This causes an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, often called heartburn.
With GER, reflux happens after nearly every meal and causes noticeable discomfort. After eating, people with GER feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat.
While it’s more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal reflux.
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What Are The Causes Of Heartburn
Its thought that certain foods or behaviors are causes of heartburn. Many of those common acid reflux triggers are obvious. You know if you eat that chili dog, overeat at Thanksgiving, or indulge in that chocolate cake that youll likely suffer the consequences with a bout of heartburn but you may not know about some of these surprising acid reflux triggers.
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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Causes Of Heartburn In Women
Chest pain or angina that happens due to lack of blood flow from heart usually cause heartburn. The chances are more when you are involved in some moderate or strenuous activity. In case if you have crossed the age group of 50 and are feeling heartburn for the very first time, this condition can increase suspicion of angina. The suspicions may also rise in younger patients when they are already suffering from diabetes, hypertension or have a long family history of heart diseases.
Gallstones are not always the prime cause of heartburn but the stone obstructing your bite can cause discomfort. It usually happens on the upper right side or middle of the abdomen. Pain associated with this condition may be dull, cramping, and sharp or may even strike hard right after you finish your meals.
Earlier, this condition was rare but within past few years, several cases of esophageal cancer have been reported in the United States. In case if you are suffering heartburn, there are chances that it happens due to esophageal cancer however, chances are rare. In order to examine this condition, your doctors may follow upper endoscopy. People who drink or smoke heavily are often at risk of esophageal cancer.
Costochondritis or Pleuritis:
Can Exercise Be A Cause Of Heartburn
Exercise can trigger heartburn. Sometimes thatâs due to increased pressure on the abdomen, which can increase the risk of acid reflux. In one study looking at different types of exercise, weightlifters had the most heartburn and acid reflux. Runners had milder symptoms and less reflux than weightlifters. Cyclists had the least reflux.
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Does Chewing Tobacco Cause Heartburn
Many people think that tobacco chewing is just a risk factor for heartburn and acid reflux.
Unfortunately, this is not true.
In fact, tobacco is a powerful cause for developing acid reflux and subsequently heartburn.
Tobacco reduces the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter and this leads to acid reflux.
In addition, tobacco reduces the production of saliva rich in bicarbonate. This is a problem because this component is important for buffering and clearance of acid in the mouth and esophagus.
Stopping smoking tobacco leads to a strong reduction of heartburn symptoms.
Are There Any Tests For Heartburn
If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.
If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.
There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:
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Tracking Your Acid Reflux Triggers
Heartburn can disrupt your life. It can restrict your menu selections, disrupt your sleep, and get in the way of your daily life. Knowing what triggers your heartburn and learning how to steer clear of those triggers can help you avoid the discomfort of acid reflux. Try keeping a food diary for a few weeks to identify your acid reflux triggers, so you can make smart diet and lifestyle changes and get your reflux under control once and for all.
Chest Tightness Or Pain
Some people with heartburn experience chest pains or chest tightness, not simply a burning sensation in the chest. The first step is to make sure its not from cardiac issues, Dr. Gyawali cautions. Cardiac disease can be deadly, while esophageal reflux symptoms are mostly an annoyance. If you have heart issues and heartburn, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.
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What Causes Frequent Heartburn
One common cause of frequent heartburn is a weak or relaxed lower esophageal sphincter , a circular ring of muscle of the esophagus that prevents the backup of stomach content into the esophagus. If the diaphragm muscle is too weak, the stomach can also partially slip through the diaphragm into the chest , making acid reflux more likely. Obesity and pregnancy are common contributing factors.
What Are The Best Sleeping Positions For Heartburn
Sleeping on your left side may reduce your heartburn symptoms because it relieves the pressure on your stomach and allows for food to move to the lower part of the stomach. Conversely, some research suggests that lying on your right side aggravates heartburn and GERD .
Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated is another good way for people with heartburn to slip into a restful slumber. Heartburn is a result of the stomach contents coming back up into the esophagus, so utilizing gravity by elevating the head and upper body helps keep your stomach contents where they should be. You can purchase wedge pillows that keep you propped up all night, thus reducing heartburn.
Additionally, you can opt to raise the top two posts of your bed frame to elevate your upper body when you sleep. Bed raisers are available online and come in different heights to fit your preference. Just make sure that if your bed frame does not have a sturdy footboard, you secure your mattress to prevent it from slipping.
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