You’re Drinking Too Much
“Alcohol can have immediate inflammatory effects on the esophagus and stomach,” explains Berry. “Alcohol also overworks the liver, which can lead to increased stomach irritation and heartburn. We all like to have a drink now and again, but removing alcohol from your diet can greatly improve heartburn in many people.” And for more on the effects of alcohol on the body, Here’s Why Alcohol Wakes You Up in the Middle of the Night.
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Causes Of Gerd: Reflux Chemistry And Anatomy
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease generally stems from just two underlying causes: those that have to do with reflux chemistry and those that stem from anatomical dysfunction.
Chemical causes of GERD can include:
- fluids refluxed from the stomach irritating or damaging the esophagus
- general sensitivity of esophageal tissue, often caused by natural low acid intolerance, use of prescription drugs or other drugs as alcohol and tobacco
Most of the time, however, GERD can be attributed to a patients own anatomy.
The biology of swallowing, for healthy patients, is simple. When a person with normal, healthy anatomy swallows, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach opens. This allows food to pass. The valve then closes to prevent stomach contents from backwashing or refluxing back up into the esophagus. A normal, healthy valve serves as an effective antireflux barrier and experts consider it the most important factor in preventing GERD.
For people with GERD, this valve becomes dysfunctional and does not close appropriately. This allows abnormal amounts of both acidic and non-acidic fluids to backwash into the esophagus and causes GERD.
For people with GERD, this valve becomes dysfunctional and does not close appropriately. This allows abnormal amounts of both acidic and non-acidic fluids to backwash into the esophagus.
Things That Can Make Heartburn Worse
Many things can make heartburn worse. Heartburn is most common after overeating, when bending over or when lying down. Pregnancy, stress, and certain foods can also make heartburn worse.
Things that can make heartburn worse:
- Cigarette smoking
- Certain drinks, including coffee , other drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks
- Citrus fruits
- Fatty foods or spicy foods
- Lying down too soon after eating
- Being overweight or obese
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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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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.
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Gerd: Natural Approaches That Address Causation Are Best
You always want to address the levels of causation, not only the symptoms. Symptom treatment, especially for GERD can have serious consequences. This is especially true of acid blocking drugs, which the literature shows can have very serious effects on nutrient and mineral status, as well as increasing the risk of certain infections.
Always seek to find the most intelligently-placed strategies. This offers the greatest chance for success.
Interested in our Health Consulting services?We can help you with your complex health condition.
What Foods And Drinks Cause Heartburn
- Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.
- Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.
- Additional foods that make heartburn worse.
Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events. Print this and take this with you to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss possible causes of heartburn you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.
Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.
Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant .
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Gerd
Stomach acid helps digest food. When that acid flows up into the esophagus, it causes irritation that leads to the symptoms of GERD.
A ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter normally keeps the top of your stomach closed. It relaxes and opens when you’re swallowing to allow food through.
GERD happens when the LES relaxes and opens up when you aren’t swallowing. This allows your stomach contents to flow back up the esophagus.
The lower esophageal sphincters role is to keep the acid restricted to the stomach, Dr. Chowdhry says. However, there are various conditions that can cause it to relax. These include the following:
- Belching or eating a large meal
- Eating certain foods, including those high in fats, chocolate, and peppermint
- Increased pressure on the abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant
- Smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke
- Having a hiatal hernia, in which the opening of the diaphragm allows the upper part of the stomach to move up into the chest. This lowers the pressure in the esophageal sphincter.
Being pregnant is a major risk factor for GERD due to increased pressure on the abdomen and hormonal changes.
Some pregnant women experience heartburn as often as every day, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Other causes and risk factors:
- Consuming alcoholic, caffeinated, or carbonated beverages
- Eating certain foods, such as chocolate, citrus fruits, onions, peppermint, tomatoes, or spicy or fried foods
- Eating large meals
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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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.
What Causes Indigestion
A lot of factors can cause indigestion. These include:
- Eating certain foods, such as those that are spicy and fatty, and those with lots of acid or fiber
- Eating too late in the day
- Drinking alcohol or too much caffeine
- Taking certain medicines
- Not sleeping
Problems in your GI tract or other health issues also can cause indigestion. These include:
- Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux , or gastroesophageal reflux disease : This is when your food and drink comes back up from your stomach after eating or drinking. Its in the form of acid and can come into your esophagus, the tube-like organ connecting your mouth and stomach. Acid reflux also can produce vomiting. This condition also may cause heartburn.
- Irritable bowel syndrome: This disorder affects your intestines. Symptoms include stomach pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Infection: A bacterial infection from Helicobacter pylori can cause indigestion.
- Gastroparesis: This condition affects digestion. If muscles in your GI tract stop working, your body slows down or stops the movement of food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, bloating, and acid reflux.
- Ulcer: This is a sore on the lining of your stomach , small intestine, or esophagus.
- Gastritis: This is inflammation of your stomach lining.
- Stomach cancer: This is a rare condition, but indigestion can be one of its signs.
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You Have A Food Allergy
“In my clinical experience, heartburn can be a symptom of underlying gastrointestinal disorders including food allergies,” says Krisel Nagallo, ND, a naturopathic physician. Indeed, the Cleveland Clinic lists heartburn as one of the common symptoms of food intolerance, and , MD, notes on his blog that common culprits of heartburn “include dairy and gluten-containing foods like wheat, barley, rye, and oats.”
What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.
I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they don’t seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually can’t stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.
What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?
Try any or all of the following:
Will these changes stop the heartburn?
They may. If they don’t, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids don’t work?
If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.
What are acid blockers?
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A War Correspondents New Enemy: Barretts Esophagus
Esophageal Ulcer This is an open sore in the esophagus, caused by tissue damage from stomach acid. It can lead to pain, bleeding, and problems with swallowing.
Barretts Esophagus This is a precancerous condition in which the lining of the esophagus changes to one that more closely resembles the lining of the intestines.
While Barretts esophagus can reduce symptoms of heartburn, it increases your risk of esophageal cancer by a factor of about 30.
Esophageal Cancer This lethal cancer, which current treatments cant do much to slow, can result from years of untreated GERD.
How Do Antacids Work To Treat Heartburn
Antacids reduce the amount of stomach acid, relieving your heartburn. These medications can also be used to soothe stomach upset, indigestion and other pains in your stomach. Some antacids contain simethicone, which reduces gas. Antacids that you can get without a prescription include:
Make sure you always follow the instructions on the package or talk to your doctor about the right way to use an antacid. If you use tablets, chew them well before swallowing for faster relief.
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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.
Not All Of Them Are Obvious
Feel like you just cant keep that nasty stuff in your belly from bubbling up into your throat? What youre experiencing might not be run-of-the-mill heartburn. It could be a case of gastroesophageal reflux diseaseGERD, for shorta condition that causes the acid and food in your stomach to rise into your esophagus, and sometimes even enter your mouth or lungs. GERD is far from rare: In fact, it occurs in 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to the medical journal Gastroenterology. But there are also several factors that make some people an easier target for the disease.
Everyone has a small, normal amount of gastroesophageal reflux, but an abnormal amount of acid reflux occurs when the one-way valve between the esophagus and the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, becomes too loose, says Ketan Shah, M.D., gastroenterologist at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. This can occur for multiple reasons that cause intra-abdominal pressure to be abnormally elevated, including being overweight or obese, frequent overeating, lying down too soon after eating, chronic straining or coughing, or chronic heavy lifting. These are typically the people who are more susceptible to GERD.
Heartburn won’t go away
Heart Attack Feeling
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Avoid Spicy Foods And Keep Some Dazzle In Your Diet With Low
The fiery feeling of heartburn is the last way you want to remember a great meal. But when your doctor says you have chronic heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease , you may worry that a bland and disappointing menu is in your future. “That may not be true,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “The foods that trigger heartburn are different for everyone.” He suggests keeping a journal to determine which foods cause symptoms.
Some foods and ingredients may intensify heartburn, such as spicy foods, citrus, tomato sauces, and vinegar.
Fatty and fried foods linger longer in the stomach. That may increase stomach pressure and force open the muscles that keep stomach acid out of the esophagus.
Other common heartburn triggers include chocolate, caffeine, onions, peppermint, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.
What Causes Heartburn
To know why heartburn happens, it can help to understand how your esophagus and stomach work. When you eat, the food passes down a long tube that connects your mouth and stomach. This tube is called the esophagus. At the bottom of the esophagus is a valve, called the esophageal sphincter. This valve opens to let food through and then closes to keep your stomach contents down. Inside your stomach is a very strong acidic mixture that starts the process of breaking down your food . Your stomach is designed to hold this mixture. However, your esophagus isnt able to hold this mixture without getting hurt.
Sometimes, the valve that separates your stomach and esophagus doesnt close properly, and some of the acidic mixture from your stomach goes back up the esophagus. This is called reflux. When you have reflux, youll often feel the burning sensation thats heartburn. There are a few medical conditions that can cause reflux and make you feel heartburn, including:
- Hiatal hernia .
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease .
- Certain medications, especially anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin.
Heartburn can also be caused by your eating habits including the foods you eat, how large your meals are and how close to bedtime you eat and certain lifestyle habits.
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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.