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What Does It Mean When You Have A Heartburn

Remedies For Heartburn After Meals

Does Heartburn Mean You Have Too Much Stomach Acid?
  • Antacids are among the more commonly used medication to remedy heartburn after eating. If persistent, medical treatment needs to be sought. Antacids should not be used indefinitely as prolonged use of certain types may lead to complications.
  • Increase water intake after a meal. It can help wash down any acid that has entered the esophagus and also help with hastening stomach emptying to some degree.
  • Take a walk after a meal but do not run or exercise. The movement may help with stomach emptying and being upright utilizes gravity to prevent reflux.
  • Milk and other dairy products may be helpful in neutralizing the stomach acid and soothing the esophagus. However, this is for short term relief and large amounts of dairy should not be used to treat acid reflux.

Why Does Yogurt Give Me Heartburn

Yogurt has exceptional nutritional value. It is rich in protein, vitamins, calcium, and probiotics that are essential to maintain gut health. Yogurt intake will help your body by killing harmful bacteria and making good bacteria grow. It will also boost your immune system.

But unfortunately, some people dont react well to yogurt. Many people have reported getting heartburn after consuming yogurt.

So, you might be wondering, why does yogurt give me heartburn?

Gut bacteria produce some forms of stomach acid. In some individuals, the production may be higher than usual histamine release will be triggered, and that might contribute to creating stomach acid reflux which, in other words, is known as heartburn.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What are your main symptoms? Report any symptoms, such as abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits, or vomiting.
  • How long have you had heartburn?
  • Have you had this problem before? If so, do you know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated? How did you respond to that treatment?
  • Have you had any signs of bleeding from your digestive system?
  • Have you had any difficulty swallowing when you eat or drink?
  • How much tobacco do you use? How much alcohol do you drink? How much caffeine do you drink?
  • Has your weight increased or decreased more than 5 lb recently?
  • Have there been any changes in your diet? Are you eating certain foods more often?
  • Have there been changes in your daily schedule, such as when you eat and when you go to bed?
  • Are you taking any nonprescription or prescription medicines? Bring a list of all the medicines you are taking to your appointment.
  • What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they help? Be sure to include lifestyle changes you have made.
  • What nonprescription medicines have you taken or used to treat your heartburn? Did they help?
  • Do you have any health risks?

Remember to take your heartburn symptom record to your doctor visit. Be sure to note any lifestyle changes you have made or nonprescription medicines you use.

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Can Heartburn Be Prevented Or Avoided

You might be able to avoid heartburn by making some lifestyle changes.

  • Place 6- to 9-inch blocks under the legs at the head of your bed to raise it.
  • Try to eat at least 2 to 3 hours before lying down. If you take naps, try sleeping in a chair.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke.
  • Lose weight if youre overweight.
  • Dont overeat.
  • Avoid tight clothes and tight belts.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that give you heartburn.

Is There Surgery To Treat Gerd

Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD  Whats the Difference?

GERD is usually controlled with medications and lifestyle changes . If these dont work, or if you cant take medications for an extended period, surgery may be a solution.

  • Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is the standard surgical treatment. Its a minimally invasive procedure that fixes your acid reflux by creating a new valve mechanism at the bottom of your esophagus. The surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach around the lower portion of the esophagus. This reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter so food wont reflux back into the esophagus.
  • LINX deviceimplantation is another minimally invasive surgery. A LINX device is a ring of tiny magnets that are strong enough to keep the junction between the stomach and esophagus closed to refluxing acid but weak enough to allow food to pass through.

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Causes Of Heartburn After Eating

The causes of heartburn after eating specifically refer to acid reflux and indigestion. Symptoms like bloating, nausea and excessive belching may also be present. However, it is important to note that other non-digestive causes could also be responsible for the heartburn. Some of these conditions, like angina pectoris or even a heart attack , can also present with nausea and similar acid reflux symptoms.

Why Does It Happen In Pregnancy

Many women who have heartburn during pregnancy have never had problems before. Unfortunately, if you had heartburn before becoming pregnant, youre more likely to have symptoms while you are pregnant. Although the exact reasons arent clear, most experts believe that pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, play a role. Hormones cause relaxation of the esophageal sphincter. This is a tight circular band of muscle at the top of the stomach. This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer. The pregnancy itselfthe upward pressure of the growing uterusalso may play a role.

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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.

Quit smoking: Smoking interferes with the proper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter.

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.

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Heartburn, Acid Reflux, GERD-Mayo Clinic

Excess acid collects in the stomach, not because of excess acid production but because the stomach isnt emptying as well as it should. Couple this with poor closure of the valve between the stomach and the esophagus and you end up with stomach acid splashing up into the esophagus. Its this combination of neurological problems that leads to heartburn or GERD .

Both of these problems are controlled by the autonomic nervous system . The ANS is a primitive part of the brain that controls all bodily organ function. It controls peristalsis that pushes food through the intestinal tract. It coordinates the muscles and valves of the bladder so we can empty the bladder efficiently. It even controls blood pressure regulation, sweating, pupil dilation and constriction, saliva production and erections.

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that carbohydrates are having a toxic effect on the ANS and is the cause of such common problems as heartburn, constipation, frequent urination, chronic fatigue and lightheadedness.

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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
  • lightheadedness
  • 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.

When Gerd Progresses To Esophageal Cancer

GERD develops when acid that digests food in the stomach washes up into the esophagus. Often it occurs in people who overeat or who lie down too soon after eating. It may also be caused by defects in the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach or by a condition called hiatal hernia, which is when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the chest.

After someone has had GERD for many years, it can advance to a condition called Barretts esophagus. Barretts is a defensive mechanism of your esophagus, Dr. Molena explains. When the esophagus is bathed in acid all the time, it wants to protect itself, and so the cells in the lining begin to change. These changes can advance to become cancer.

When patients develop Barretts esophagus, their GERD symptoms often disappear. Its typical for patients with esophageal cancer to tell me that they suffered from GERD for years, but then it went away and they stopped taking their GERD medications, which would have actually reduced their cancer risk, Dr. Molena says.

Not everyone with GERD has the typical symptoms, which are heartburn and regurgitation soon after eating. Up to 20% may have different symptoms, such as coughing or chest pain, a sore throat or hoarse voice, or even frequent sinus infections. Its important to talk to your doctor about any of these.

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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.

How Do Acid Blockers Work To Treat Heartburn

What should I do if I have 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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Serious Side Effects Of Heartburn

Even if its not a heart attack, heartburn can be serious. Dangerous side effects and complications can result if you dont seek treatment. Some common side effects include:

  • Awaking from sleep, especially if youve eaten within two hours of going to bed
  • Esophageal cancer: if Barretts esophagus is not treated
  • Esophagus erosion: scarring, ulcers and narrowing of the tube
  • Barretts esophagus: precancerous condition from chronic acid reflux
  • Esophageal strictures and dysphagia: swallowing difficulties due to esophagus damage

What Are The Complications Associated With Heartburn

Occasional heartburn isnt typically a cause for concern. However, if you get this symptom frequently, you may have a serious health problem that requires treatment.

If you dont get treatment for serious heartburn, you can develop additional health problems, such as an inflammation of the esophagus, which is called esophagitis, or Barretts esophagus. Barretts esophagus causes changes in the lining of the esophagus that can increase your risk of esophageal cancer.

Long-term heartburn can also affect your quality of life. See your doctor to determine a course of treatment if you find it difficult to carry on your daily life or are severely limited in your activities due to heartburn.

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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.

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I tell my patients that if you belch and the symptoms go away, it probably isnt related to your heart but to your esophagus, Bauman said. But if you have shortness of breath or sweating, then its likely a heart-related issue.

However, everyone is different, and not all symptoms are caused by one or the other, so:

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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.

Treatment For Heartburn In Teenagers

Your doctor may suggest dietary modifications and lifestyle changes to reduce acid reflux. Chewing sugarless gums after eating and sleeping on the side or with an elevated head position may be useful in some teens. If conservative management fails to resolve heartburn, your teen will have to undergo pharmacological treatments.

Heartburn can be treated with medications depending on the causes. The following medications are used :

Almost all of the following drugs, except prokinetics are available OTC , one or two doses may be taken for acute relief. But a doctors advice should be sought if they are needed more than that not only because they have potential adverse effects but also because their abuse may mask the underlying condition which could be dangerous.

  • Antacids:This medication neutralizes stomach acid, and it is available as Maalox, Alka-Seltzer, Riopan, Mylanta, etc. Seek a doctors advice for dosing since it may cause side effects such as constipation and diarrhea. Also prolonged consumption of antacids for symptom relief is not advisable and treatment of cause is needed to avoid long-term complications of acid reflux.
  • H2 blockers: These drugs decrease the production of stomach acid. Cimetidine , ranitidine , or famotidine are H2 blockers.
  • Proton pump inhibitors : These drugs also reduce stomach acid production. omeprazole , esomeprazole , and pantoprazole are a few examples of PPIs.

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What Makes It Better

For most women, things that help reduce acid production or prevent reux are helpful in avoiding the discomfort of heartburn. Here are tips that may help:

  • Avoid classic spicy foods, as well as those with lots of fat or grease. Many people recommend avoiding citrus and chocolate, as well.

  • Eat multiple, small meals spread throughout the day, much like grazing, instead of three big meals.

  • Try elevating the head of your bed by several inches, and wait a while after eating before going to bed or lying down.

Some women find that its better to drink fluids between meals, rather than with a meal. This can increase the amount of contents in the stomach.

If your symptoms do not improve after the above recommended diet and lifestyle changes are in place, talk with your healthcare provider about over-the-counter medicines. Antacids are available as chewable tablets and liquids. They work by coating the lining of the esophagus and stomach and neutralizing stomach acid. Heartburn medicines called H2-blockers work by reducing the amount of acid made by your stomach. Although most of these are considered safe in pregnancy, as with all medicines, these should be avoided in the first trimester.

Heartburn Causes And Risk Factors

What Causes Heartburn? Too Much Acid...Or Too Little?

Heartburn symptoms can start up because of a problem with a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter . It’s located where the esophagus meets the stomach — below the rib cage and slightly left of center.

Normally, with the help of gravity, the LES keeps stomach acid right where it should be — in your stomach. When it’s working right, the LES opens to allow food into your stomach or to let you belch, then closes again. But if the LES opens too often or doesn’t close tightly enough, stomach acid can seep into the esophagus and cause a burning sensation.

If your LES doesn’t tighten as it should, there are often two things that contribute to the problem. One is overeating, which puts too much food in your stomach. Another is too much pressure on your stomach, often due to obesity, pregnancy, or constipation.

Certain foods can relax your LES or increase stomach acid, including:

Meals high in fats and oils often lead to heartburn, as do certain medications. Stress and lack of sleep can raise how much acid your stomach makes and can cause heartburn.

If you’re pregnant, the hormone progesterone can relax your LES and lead to heartburn. Smoking also relaxes the LES and increases stomach acid.

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