HomeMust ReadWhat Does It Mean When You Have Constant Heartburn

What Does It Mean When You Have Constant Heartburn

Childhood Heartburn A Warning Sign For Your Childs Future Health

What Causes Heartburn & Reflux? (Common Sense Medicine)

It goes without saying that no one wants their child to have heartburn. But I believe the most important aspect of this problem is that a child with heartburn is a child that is progressing towards more serious illnesses in early adulthood.

High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, polycystic ovarian disease, gout, obesity, sleep apnea and all triggered by excessive carbohydrates consumption. These are all illnesses associated with insulin resistance a disorder known to be triggered by excess carbohydrate consumption. Coincidentally, these conditions are becoming increasingly more common in young adults.

Your childs lifelong eating habits and taste preferences are formed when they are young. If your child has heartburn, they are on the fast track to develop these other illnesses as well.

It is imperative you change their eating habits by controlling the foods that come into the house, their choices when eating out and the foods they eat at school. You must take charge because no one else is looking out for them.

Its not too late to change their future. Start today by pledging not to bring any more soda, juices, chips, cookies, fruit rollups, donuts or ice cream into the house. These should be foods that are eaten only infrequently. Save them for the rare celebration.

Your kids dont NEED these foods. Sure they will gripe and complain. But in time, they will adapt and in the process, you will literally save their life in adulthood.

Other Causes Of Frequent Heartburn Are Listed Below

  • Eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime can be one of the reasons behind heartburn. Try to avoid having meals just before we go to our bed. This causes the food to slide into our esophagus and trigger a burning sensation in our chest.
  • Avoid drinking before bedtime. Drinking too much alcohol can invite heartburn problems.

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

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Is Gerd Dangerous Or Life

GERD isnt life-threatening or dangerous in itself. But long-term GERD can lead to more serious health problems:

  • Esophagitis: Esophagitis is the irritation and inflammation the stomach acid causes in the lining of the esophagus. Esophagitis can cause ulcers in your esophagus, heartburn, chest pain, bleeding and trouble swallowing.
  • Barrett’s esophagus: Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that develops in some people who have long-term GERD. The damage acid reflux can cause over years can change the cells in the lining of the esophagus. Barretts esophagus is a risk factor for cancer of the esophagus.
  • Esophageal cancer: Cancer that begins in the esophagus is divided into two major types. Adenocarcinoma usually develops in the lower part of the esophagus. This type can develop from Barretts esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the cells that line the esophagus. This cancer usually affects the upper and middle part of the esophagus.
  • Strictures: Sometimes the damaged lining of the esophagus becomes scarred, causing narrowing of the esophagus. These strictures can interfere with eating and drinking by preventing food and liquid from reaching the stomach.

How Do I Know Im Having Heartburn And Not A Heart Attack

Chest pain caused by heartburn may make you afraid youre having a heart attack. Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, but since the discomfort is in your chest it may be hard to know the difference while its going on. But symptoms of a heart attack are different than heartburn.

Heartburn is that uncomfortable burning feeling or pain in your chest that can move up to your neck and throat. A heart attack can cause pain in the arms, neck and jaw, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms.

If your heartburn medication doesnt help and your chest pain is accompanied by these symptoms, call for medical attention right away.

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Take A Proactive Approach

That’s why, if you have had heartburn or acid reflux consistently for longer than three years, you should have an endoscopy, says Brown. An endoscopy is a simple procedure where a specially designed scope is used to examine the esophagus and take tissue samples, when necessary.

“The tissue samples or biopsies are examined to look for any abnormal cell growth,” Brown explains. “The hope is that we’ll be able to catch any abnormal cells before they become cancerous.

Patients who are diagnosed with Barrett’s typically undergo repeat endoscopies one year and three years later. If precancerous cells are seen at that point, treatment may involve surgical removal of the esophagus to prevent eventual progression to cancer.

But a technique available at Rush, the HALO Ablation System, enables doctors to use radiofrequency ablation to remove Barrett’s tissue completely, without invasive surgery and with relatively few complications.

“HALO ablation has shown to be an effective alternative to surgery in select patients,” says Brown. “However, the good news is that most patients with Barrett’s will never progress to the point that they require this level of intervention.”

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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Risks And Complications Of Heartburn In Teens

Heartburn can be diagnosed based on the symptoms and medical history of your teen. If dietary and lifestyle changes and medications do not improve it, your doctor may order tests to confirm the cause of heartburn. It can be :

  • Esophagitis
  • Ulcerations in the esophagus
  • Narrowing of the esophagus followed by damage
  • Dry cough and other respiratory complications
  • Change in voice

Heartburn may interrupt sleep and often worsen asthma problems. It may also be associated with inflammation of the larynx . Long-standing acid reflux may cause changes in the esophagus, known as Barretts esophagus. It is a precancerous change and requires medical care.

How Is Heartburn Treated

What Is Acid Reflux?

In most cases, heartburn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.

Over-the-counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and acid blockers.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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Heartburn The Most Obvious But Not The Only Symptom

I see kids almost every week who are experiencing the symptoms of heartburn. This is not a harmless condition but a harbinger of illness yet to come. And kids with heartburn often experience other signs of carbohydrate neurotoxicity as well.

Many have to urinate frequently, a sign of poor neurological control of bladder emptying. They may experience headaches, poor concentration, and fatigue while sitting in class, a sign of poor blood flow regulation to the brain.

Parents are often surprised when I get their children to admit to a variety of other symptoms once I hear about their heartburn. Kids dont complain much and just seem to suffer through it.

Viral Or Bacterial Infection

Everyone has experienced a sore throat, a painful inflammation of the back part of the throat, at some point in their lives, with the most common cause being a virus. In addition to a burning, itchy, or raw throat, especially when swallowing, someone with a viral infection of the throat may also experience a cough, runny nose, hoarseness, and/or diarrhea .

Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, so treating the symptoms with rest, over-the-counter pain meds, saltwater gargles, and throat lozenges or anesthetic throat sprays is the recommended course of action.

Less commonly, the cause of an infection is bacterial, and this is called strep throat. It requires a trip to your doctor for an antibiotic, since if left untreated it can spread and lead to serious complications like rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, and kidney inflammation.

Other signs and symptoms of strep throat often include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck
  • White patches on the tonsils
  • Body aches

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How Is Gerd Treated

Treatment for GERD depends on how severe symptoms are. For some people, treatment may just include lifestyle changes, such as changing what they eat or drink. Others will need to take medicines. In very rare cases, when GERD is particularly severe, a doctor will recommend surgery.

These lifestyle changes can help ease the symptoms of GERD or even prevent the condition:

  • quitting smoking
  • losing weight if you are overweight
  • eating small meals
  • avoiding carbonated beverages
  • avoiding foods that trigger reflux

It also can help to not lie down for 3 hours after a meal and to not eat 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Doctors sometimes also recommend raising the head of the bed about 6 to 8 inches. Before you start a major bedroom makeover, though, talk to your doctor and your parents about the best sleeping position for you.

If symptoms continue, doctors might prescribe medicine, such as:

  • H2 blockers, which can help block the production of stomach acid
  • proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid the stomach makes
  • prokinetics, which help the esophageal sphincter work better and the stomach empty faster. This can prevent reflux episodes.

What Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn

Anxiety and Heartburn, GERD, Acid Reflux

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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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.

Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious

Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.

When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .

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What Does It Mean When You Have Heartburn

The term heartburn can be misleading at times as it has nothing to do with the heart, even though it contains the word heart. The symptoms of heartburn may appear to be like the symptoms of heart diseases. It is also referred as acid indigestion. Chronic or regular long lasting heartburn takes the form of gastro esophageal reflux disease .

Control Your Acid Reflux

If you have frequent acid reflux, that means you have acid reflux disease . The vast majority of patients with acid reflux disease respond well to daily acid suppressing medications, such as proton pump inhibitors.

It’s important to note, however, that while these medications effectively manage symptoms, they are not a cure. The heartburn pain will go away, but the backsplash of damaging fluid still occurs.

That’s because proton pump inhibitors can’t fix the underlying mechanical problem the dysfunction of the valve between the esophagus and stomach. Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors can also cause significant side effects, and you must consider the lifetime cost of taking these medications.

For these reasons, surgery may be necessary to correct the valve mechanism, with the goal of eliminating the need for reflux medication. Advances in technology have improved doctors ability to tailor procedures to each individual patient, with greatly improved outcomes.

These techniques are performed through small or even no incisions, and serve to restore the valve mechanism between the esophagus and stomach to prevent acid reflux, explains Justin Karush, DO, a thoracic surgeon at Rush. Common procedures for GERD include laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, transoral incisionless fundoplication and magnetic sphincter augmentation .

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