Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
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.
Discuss H2 Blockers With Your Doctor
If an antacid isn’t working, it may be time to consider stronger medications.
Your first option will likely be an H2 blocker like Tagamet or Zantac. These drugs suppress stomach-acid production. All four H2 inhibitors on the market are now available without a prescription and considered to be safe during pregnancy. But talk to your doctor before taking them.
“They really work,” says Einarson. “You only have to take one or two a day.”
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Eat Small Frequent Meals
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic advise that eating small meals at frequent intervals in the day help to reduce stomach pressure. Eating regular healthy meals throughout the day ensures that you get enough vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep your body healthy.14
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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.13
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, dropping a few pounds can help resolve heartburn symptoms not least because you are less likely to eat high-fat foods on a diet. Losing as little as 2.5 pounds can help reduce heartburn symptoms, according to David A. Johnson, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia School of Medicine.7
A Pharmacist Can Help With Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Speak to a pharmacist for advice if you keep getting heartburn.
They can recommend medicines called antacids that can help ease your symptoms.
It’s best to take these with food or soon after eating, as this is when you’re most likely to get heartburn. They may also work for longer if taken with food.
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More Ways To Avoid Heartburn
Sometimes it not just what you eat, but how you eat. Check out these tips for taming those searing symptoms.
Dont slouch when eating. It may be tempting to settle into the cushions and watch TV while inhaling that plate of Buffalo wings. But sitting less than straight while you chow down can encourage gastric juices to head in the wrong direction. Doctors say its also important stay upright for 45 to 60 minutes after eating. If stomach acid does escape, gravity will send that noxious stuff back to where it belongs: your stomach. Liquid and gas want to go to the path of least resistance, Pichetshote says. If youre laying down it can easily go up toward your head. If youre a little more upright, it has to fight gravity to move upward. The same goes for sleeping: Wait at least two to three hours after eating before hitting the sack.
Find your sweet spot. Overeating is never a good idea. When your stomach is distended and bloated, acid can rise back into the esophagus, triggering symptoms. But an empty stomach can cause problems, too. Go more than three to four hours without a meal or snack, and stomach acid which would usually be used in the digestive process to break down food collects. The best approach? Eat smaller meals and eat slowly. And choose water to wash things down.
Foods That Help Heartburn
Many people experience occasional heartburn or acid reflux. Heartburn is the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, and itâs often caused by what you eat. Thankfully, there are certain foods that are known to reduce, relieve, and help heartburn.
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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.
Use Carom Seeds To Relieve Heartburn
Carom seeds or ajwain as they are known in India is an age-old remedy for heartburn and other gastric problems. It is one of the finest Ayurvedic remedies for heartburn and gas. Carom seeds have anti-acidic properties and thus act as natural antacids. Thymol present in carom seeds act against acidity and gives you relief from heartburn. It also soothes the mucous membrane of your stomach.
Ways to Use Carom Seeds for Heartburn
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When Can I Expect The Heartburn To End During Pregnancy
Unfortunately, heartburn is a symptom you’re likely to experience throughout your entire pregnancy if you have it at all.
In fact, even if you escaped indigestion early on in your pregnancy, there’s a good chance you’ll have a surge starting around the second or third trimesters, when your uterus takes over your abdominal cavity and forces your stomach upwards.
Fortunately, the burn should clear up as soon as you give birth.
Cut Out Smoking And Avoid Passive Inhalation Of Cigarette Smoke
Yes, another thing smoking is really bad for! Nicotine in cigarettes relaxes the muscles in the lower part of the esophagus, and as such is less likely to keep stomach acid at bay inside your stomach, causing the reflux.
As such, steer clear of smoking, and avoid being near others smoking as passive inhalation can have the same effect.
Does Heartburn During Pregnancy Mean My Baby Will Be Born With Hair
Suffering from severe heartburn? You may want to stock up on baby shampoo. Research has backed up the superstition that, on average, the more heartburn you have during pregnancy, the more likely your baby will be born with a full head of hair.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Try Slippery Elm To Get Rid Of Heartburn
Slippery elm has been traditionally used by Native Americans for treating various conditions including wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, skin inflammation as well as coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems. The herb has mucilage, a component that converts into a slick gel when it is mixed with water. It gives slippery elm its demulcent property due to which it coats and soothes the area where it is directed. In case of heartburn, it coats the layer of mucous that lines your stomach and thus creates a barrier against acid that could not find its way up to your esophagus.
- Add the slippery elm powder to water or milk whatever you are comfortable with.
- Stir it well to mix the powder completely into the water.
- You may have it 1-3 times a day depending upon the severity of your heartburn.
- Have this herbal drink after your meals and at bedtime.
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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.
Try Baking Soda Or Apple Cider Vinegar
Some items in your kitchen can help to get rid of heartburn. Baking soda, for example, helps neutralize the acidity in your stomach and can temporarily alleviate acid reflux .2 Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in eight fluid ounces of water and sip slowly for temporary relief .2 Another remedy that some people swear by for reducing acid reflux is a teaspoon to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed into a glass of water. However, there is no clinical evidence that this works.3
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What Medications Can I Take For Heartburn During Pregnancy
Its important to be extremely careful about the medications you take when pregnant.
For heartburn relief, over-the-counter antacids are all considered safe medications to use during pregnancy.
As always, consult with your provider about any medications youre taking even if theyre considered safe.
If you experience any unusual symptoms while taking an over-the-counter medication, call your doctor immediately.
What Should You Know About Heartburn
Heartburn is a symptom that feels like a burning in your chest, and is a symptom of acid reflux .
Do most people get heartburn?
Heartburn is more common during pregnancy. Most people get heartburn after meals, but can also awaken people while they are sleeping. People also may experience heartburn after eating specific foods or drinking certain beverages.
What can heartburn be a sign or symptom of?
How can you tell if you are having a heart attack or heartburn?
- If you think that you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately to save your life.
- A heart attack and heartburn can have the same symptoms, for example, be the same, for example, heartburn is a symptom of another disease or condition, for example, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea and vomiting.
- Heart attack signs and symptoms that are not the same as in heartburn include, for example, dizziness, toothache, and headache while heartburn symptoms include problems swallowing, persistant sore throat, hoarseness, laryngitis or reflux laryngitis.
How can you get rid of heartburn?
Heartburn can be relieved and cured for many people with lifestyle changes, for example,
- eat a healthy diet,
- sleep with your head elevated with pillow.
- Over-the-counter, prescription, and surgery may be necessary to cure heartburn.
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Causes Of Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it’s caused or made worse by:
- certain food and drink such as coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
- being overweight
- some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers
- a hiatus hernia when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
Melon For Heartburn Relief
Melon has a pH of 6.1 and therefore it can be counted as one of the good foods for heartburn. Some people, however, may not respond well to melon and need to avoid it. So you can have some melon pieces every day or make a smoothie with melon and other ingredients that are also good to cure heartburn. Here is one recipe for a melon smoothie that also uses almond milk, cantaloupe, watermelon, ginger and banana. Almonds are also said to be a great remedy for heartburn as they neutralize stomach acid. While you can always snack on almonds, adding a few of them in this smoothie will not only make it tasty but will increase its efficacy in combating heartburn.
Make Melon Smoothie to Prevent Heartburn
- Fresh ginger root- 1 inch piece
- Place all the above ingredients in your blender and blend them together.
- Have this every morning if you have a consistent problem of heartburn.
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Avoid Eating 3 Hours Before Bed
This remedy goes hand in hand with tip number 3. If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you are going to want to avoid eating several hours before bed. If you lay down right after a meal, the digestive fluids in your stomach can creep into your esophagus and cause the burning sensation many people associate with heartburn.
Avoiding a meal 3 to 4 hours before bed is also beneficial to losing weight. Your body is not digesting food while you sleep, as it is supposed to be resting.
Mix Baking Soda With Water
You might have a heartburn remedy at hand in your kitchen without even knowing it. Baking soda can calm some episodes of heartburn by neutralizing your stomach acid.
To do this, dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it slowly. In fact, you should drink everything slowly when you have heartburn.
help relieve nausea, so some believe it may be worth trying for heartburn, too.
Consider adding grated or diced ginger root to your favorite stir-fry recipes, soups, and other foods. To make ginger tea, steep raw ginger root, dried ginger root, or ginger tea bags in boiling water.
Its probably best to avoid ginger ale, though. Carbonated beverages are a common heartburn trigger, and most brands of ginger ale are made with artificial flavoring rather than the real thing.
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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.
Know The 8 Worst Foods For Acid Reflux Or Heartburn
Experts say you can uncover your specific triggers by paying close attention to how your body reacts to what youre eating. But you may well find one of the following eight foods pops up as a problem.
1. Fried, fatty foods. Talk about a triple whammy. First, foods that are high in fat and drenched in oil cause the lower esophageal sphincter the ring of muscle connecting the esophagus and stomach to relax, allowing acid to leak out and up into the esophagus. Also, they are digested slowly and sit in your stomach longer, giving gastric acid more time to work its way up into your esophagus, increasing your risk of heartburn. And high-fat food can cause weight gain. That extra poundage increases pressure on your abdomen, making it easier for fluid to travel upward, into the esophagus. Tip: Opt instead for lean cuts of meat, chicken and fish, cooked on the grill or in the oven.
2. Citrus fruits. Their vitamin C may be the draw, but these fruits high acid content makes them risky for reflux. Lemons and limes are the biggest culprits, but oranges, grapefruit, grapes and blueberries make the list, too. Tip: Offset their acidity by buffering them with more alkaline foods, such as low-fat yogurt.
5. Peppermint. A cup of refreshing, mint-infused tea can calm a turbulent tummy. But peppermint, in any form, can also cause gastric reflux and heartburn. Tip: Savor a cup of soothing chamomile tea or suck on licorice-flavored hard candy to soothe your stomach.
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