What Causes Heartburn In Women
Heartburn happens when the acids in stomach break up into the esophagus, a muscular tube which assists to provide a path to food from mouth to stomach. As per the American College of Gastroenterology, almost 60 million people in the United States suffer from heartburn. This condition is also named as acid reflux. Note that the symptoms of acid reflux may vary from person to person but it often includes some burning sensation in the chest area. Anyone ranging from children to older people including men and woman can experience heartburn but the chances are more in women.
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.
Spasm Of The Esophagus
The esophagus is the muscular tube that passes behind the heart, and carries food, liquid, and saliva from the mouth to the stomach. In a condition called diffuse esophageal spasm , the tube contracts uncontrollably, causing trouble swallowing and chest pain.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: dry cough, deep chest pain, behind the breast bone, heartburn, trouble swallowing, burning chest pain
Symptoms that never occur with spasm of the esophagus: shortness of breath
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Also Check: How To Relieve Heartburn Gas
What Is The Number One Cause Of Acid Reflux
The most common cause is food thats acidic or high in fat like citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, chocolate, coffee, cheese, and peppermint. Spicy foods or large meals can also be the root of distress. Other sources of heartburn include aspirin or ibuprofen, as well as some sedatives and blood pressure medications.
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.
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Complications Of Gerd And Acid Reflux
Ulcers Stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers. These ulcers have the potential to bleed. To check for bleeding ulcers, your doctor may recommend a stool sample test called hemocult.
Stricture Damage caused by acid reflux can cause the esophagus to scar and narrow. This is called stricture. Over time, stricture could cause a blockage of food and require treatment. The scar tissue is a result of ulcers that occur and heal over time.
Lung and throat problems Acid reflux in the throat could lead to irritation or inflammation of the vocal cords or a sore throat. If the acid is inhaled into the lungs, it could cause aspiration pneumonia or symptoms of asthma. If the acid reflux is chronic, it could eventually cause permanent lung damage including pulmonary fibrosis or bronchiectasis.
Barrettâs esophagus Barrettâs esophagus occurs when the cells in the lower esophagus transform. The transformation is usually caused by damage to the esophageal lining, most often from chronic acid reflux or GERD. There is a small chance these cells may develop into cancer. Patients with Barretts esophagus should have an upper endoscopy done periodically to look for early signs of cancer.
Esophageal cancer Barrettâs esophagus is a major risk factor for developing esophageal cancer. The rate of esophageal cancer is on the rise, but relatively few people with GERD develop Barrettâs esophagus and even fewer people with Barrettâs esophagus develop esophageal cancer.
Here Are Some Other Lifestyle Tips To Reduce Reflux
- If you are overweight then losing weight can help reduce the pressure on the LES
- Avoid foods and drinks that irritate the stomach or promote relaxation of the LES. These include alcohol, carbonated or caffeinated drinks, chocolate, citrus, milk, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Quit smoking. Smoking weakens the LES and reduces saliva production.
- Eat meals earlier in the night, or just have a simple soup if you have to eat late.
- Try intermittent fasting to give your digestion a chance to fully digest your food before eating the next meal
- Drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, blood pressure medications, steroids, and anti-biotic drugs can all contribute to reflux.
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Diagnosing H Pylori Infection
If your GP thinks that your symptoms may be due to an infection with H pylori bacteria, you may need to have a test for it, such as:
- a stool antigen test a pea-sized stool sample will be tested for H pylori bacteria
- a breath test
- a blood test a blood sample will be tested for antibodies to H pylori bacteria
Antibiotics and PPIs can affect the results of a urea breath test or a stool antigen test. Therefore, these tests may need to be delayed until two weeks after you last used a PPI, and four weeks after you last used an antibiotic.
Is Acid Reflux The Same As Gerd
Acid reflux occurs sporadically in a healthy person, like with overeating or alcohol consumption. This acute reflux is a result of temporary weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter . The alimentary tract has means of dealing with small amounts of stomach acid that occasionally enters the esophagus. However, the LES returns to its normal functional state after a few hours or days once the causative factor is removed.
GERD is a more severe and chronic form of acid reflux known as gastroesophageal reflux disease. The LES is permanently weakened to some extent. Overeating, alcohol and other factors may further weaken it temporarily but the LES never returns to a fully normal state. GERD requires medical treatment. Acute acid reflux passes with no treatment.
It is not uncommon for the terms acid reflux and GERD to be used interchangeably. Both refer to gastric contents rising up into the esophagus. However the causes, severity of symptoms, and treatment may differ and there is a host of even potentially life threatening complications associated with GERD like aspiration pneumonia. There is no standardized definition for gastroesophageal reflux disease / gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
A broad definition for GERD is recurrent reflux that causes clinically significant symptoms, with or without esophagitis and is associated with a higher risk of complications like esophageal ulcers, Barretts esophagus or reflux-induced adenocarcinoma.
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How Is Indigestion Diagnosed
Your doctor will review your symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may order tests to determine the cause of indigestion. Those tests can include blood work, urine/stool tests, or an X-ray or ultrasound. Sometimes your doctor may perform an upper endoscopy to see inside your stomach. Your doctor will insert a thin tube with a camera on the end into your esophagus. This will be done after youre given medicines to go to sleep.
Learn What Causes Heartburn Symptoms And How To Control Them
That burning sensation in your chest and throat, often accompanied by a bitter taste in your mouth, is a common ailment known as heartburn. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, some 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and about 15 million people have daily flareups. In this video, San Diego Health host Susan Taylor talks with Richard Onishi, MD, a family medicine physician with Scripps Clinic in Carmel Valley, about what causes heartburn and how to control it.
What is heartburn and what causes it?
Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. Heartburn is a form of indigestion, which is a broad term that includes upper abdominal pain often associated with food or other causes. Heartburn happens when acid in the stomach backs up, or refluxes, into the upper abdominal area and, sometimes, the esophagus and the back of the throat.
Your stomach is an acidic environment, and its protected by a layer of mucous, says Dr. Onishi. Unfortunately, the esophagus doesnt have that same protection, so if the acid refluxes up into the esophagus it causes a burning pain.
Along with burning in the chest and throat, heartburn symptoms may include regurgitation of stomach contents into the mouth, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing and a feeling of having something stuck in the throat. Some people may have a chronic cough.
Heartburn and GERD
A variety of factors can trigger GERD. The most common include:
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Lifestyle Changes For Reflux
In todays world, many people are eating on the run, eating out, eating too quickly and generally doing things that are not optimal for good digestive function. If your nodding your head saying yes to any of these then it is time to make some simple changes, the secret to success is to start small. This may include eating smaller meals, but the biggest key to success is to eat mindfully.
Eating mindfully means not eating in front of the television or any other type of screen, or at the desk while you continue to work, but eating in a relaxed environment where you just focus on eating slowly. I know this is impossible to do all the time, but try and introduce this style of eating most of the time and see what difference it makes to your digestion and reflux.
Acid In The Esophagus
The stomach is developed to withstand the effects of gastric acid by secreting a mucus layer which acts as a buffer between the acid and the stomach lining. The duodenum also has mechanisms to handle the incoming acidic gastric contents.
The pancreas secretes bicarbonate ions and water which neutralize the acidic chyme in the duodenum plus secretin, a digestive hormone, decreases the secretion of acid in the stomach as well as slowing stomach emptying. The esophagus however, is not as competent in dealing with stomach acid. In the odd case of acid reflux, peristaltic waves will quickly push the acidic contents back into the stomach.
Large amounts of alkaline saliva may be secreted which is then swallowed and neutralizes any remnants of stomach acid in the esophagus. These measures were not specifically developed in the human body just to deal with stomach acid. However, the bodys ability to compensate for any irregularity in the short term means that most cases of the odd acid reflux incident will not cause damage to the esophagus or lead to symptoms.
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Causes Of Bloating Include
1. Low Stomach Acid
Low stomach acid is a major cause behind acid reflux and it helps to explain why reflux increases with age as stomach acid levels decrease. Other causes of low stomach acid include stress, infections, and nutrient deficiencies. If you dont have enough stomach acid the food in your stomach cant digest properly, this contributes to the bloating that causes reflux.
2. Stomach Infections like Helicobacter Pylori
Helicobacter Pylori or H.Pylori for short is a bacterial infection that infects the stomach, part of its mechanism for survival is to lower the secretion of stomach acid. This lower stomach acid leads to Acid Reflux.
3. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, you should have trillions of bacteria in your large intestine but very few in the small intestine. It is these bacteria in the small intestine that produce the methane and hydrogen gas, it is this gas that produces bloating and other IBS symptoms, and leads to acid reflux.
Simple eating too much can lead to acid reflux, this can happen to many people around Christmas time, but if you find that you eat big meals your stomach will not be able to digest the food properly leading to bloating and pressure from the excess food on the LES.
Being overweight puts more pressure on the stomach and the LES, studies show that even losing 5 10 kilograms can make a big difference in reducing acid reflux symptoms.
How Do Acid Blockers Work To Treat Heartburn
Products like Pepcid AC® are called histamine H2 blockers, or acid blockers. Acid blockers reduce the production of stomach acid. They relieve heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach. Always follow the directions on the packaging or talk to your healthcare provider about how to take this medication. Acid blockers you can buy without a prescription include:
- Pepcid AC®.
- Tagamet HB®.
Take your acid blocker medicine regularly for as long as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you do not have any pain or if your symptoms get better.
Stronger acid blockers are prescription medications. These can be used to block stomach acid, treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid. Your healthcare provider will give you a specific prescription for this type of acid blocker.
The United States Food and Drug Administration recently reported elevated levels of a possible carcinogen, NDMA, in the drugs ranitidine and nizatidine . You should speak to your healthcare provider if you are taking one these medications.
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Barretts Esophagus Risk Factors
Based on these risk factors and your medical/family history, your doctor may recommend screening for Barrettâs esophagus.
- Chronic Heartburn/Acid Reflux/GERD: Those who have chronic symptoms are more likely to develop Barrettâs esophagus.
- Age: Barrettâs esophagus is more common in middle-aged and older adults. 55 is the average age of diagnosis.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop Barrettâs esophagus
- Ethnic Background: White and Hispanic populations are at higher risk than other populations. Black and Asian populations have a lower risk of developing Barrettâs esophagus.
- Smoking: Current and past smokers are more likely to develop Barrettâs esophagus.
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.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Whats causing my indigestion?
- What are some foods I should avoid to help with my indigestion?
- How much time do I need to leave been my final meal of the day and bedtime?
- Does sleeping on an elevated pillow help indigestion?
- What medicines will help my indigestion? Do they have side effects?
- Are there any medicines I should avoid that may make my indigestion worse?
- What should I do when nothing seems to help my indigestion?
What Can Cause A Feeling Of Heartburn After Eating
There are several things that can cause you to have heartburn after eating. These include:
- Taking aspirin or other pain relievers
- Eating spicy foods
- Eating large meals
- Eating greasy foods
These foods can all cause your esophagus to tighten. This can cause food to sit in your esophagus.
Even if you take very small amounts of aspirin or other pain relief, this can cause heartburn.
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Pharmacy First Scotland: Indigestion Treatment From Your Pharmacy
Most people will not need to seek medical advice for their indigestion. However, your pharmacist may advise you see your GP if you have recurring indigestion and any of the following apply:
- you are 55 years old or over
- you have lost a lot of weight without meaning to
- you have increasing difficulty swallowing
- you have persistent vomiting
- you have a lump in your stomach
- you have blood in your vomit or blood in your stools
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of the body is examined using an endoscope .
Severe indigestion can cause long-term problems with parts of your digestive tract, such as scarring of the oesophagus or the passage from your stomach. Read more about the possible complications of severe indigestion.
What Really Causes Heartburn
- Acid reflux symptoms vary in severity and from person to person.
- If you get heartburn frequently, it can be distracting and even debilitating.
- The secret is getting to the root cause of acid reflux, rather than covering up symptoms with drugs that can do more harm than good.
- Read on to find out how to get to the root of your acid reflux and avoid the things that could be making it worse.
Heartburn, aka acid reflux symptoms vary in severity and from person to person, big time. You may have even had acid reflux before and didnt realize it.
A crappy meal or a stressful day can cause heartburn every once in a while. But, if you suffer from chronic acid reflux, it can be distracting and even debilitating. The secret is to get to the root issue, rather than cover up acid reflux symptoms with over the counter drugs .
Read on to find out how to get to the root of your acid reflux and avoid the things that could be making it worse.
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