Follow A Low Carb Diet
Growing evidence suggests that low carb diets may relieve acid reflux symptoms.
In fact, some researchers suspect that undigested carbs may cause bacterial overgrowth and increased pressure inside the abdomen, which could contribute to acid reflux (
Excessive alcohol intake can worsen acid reflux symptoms. If you experience heartburn, limiting your alcohol intake might help ease some of your discomfort.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD is an ongoing condition in which the contents of the stomach come back into the esophagus . Doctors call this acid reflux.
There are several reasons why people have GERD. One possible reason has to do with the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. Normally this muscle closes to keep food and stomach acid from coming back up the esophagus. In some people with GERD this muscle does not always work right.
- GERD often causes heartburn, a burning feeling in the chest and throat. Heartburn may happen many times a week, especially after eating or at night.
- GERD can also cause you to cough or have asthma symptoms. It can also make your voice sound hoarse and raspy. These symptoms can happen even if you do not have heartburn. The acid may also leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
How common is GERD?
- GERD is one of the most common health problems for adults.
What else should I know about GERD?
- Your heartburn may keep coming back if not treated.
- Untreated GERD can cause serious health problems. The acid can damage your esophagus and make it hard to swallow.
- In some people with GERD, the cells in the esophagus can become abnormal. These abnormal cells could lead to cancer of the esophagus, although this is rare.
Should I Ignore Heartburn
Heartburn may seem like a mild nuisance rather than something to be worried about but, if you’re over 50 years and have been experiencing acid reflux for some time or feel the need to keep using over-the-counter antacid tablets, it’s worth getting it checked out.
Cumming warns: “Heartburn can be a sign of an underlying health complaint such as a gastric ulcer or oesophageal cancer and shouldn’t be ignored, especially in older people. Suffering in silence when you have long-term heartburn symptoms could lead to potentially serious conditions being diagnosed later, when they are more advanced with complications, and are harder to treat.”
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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.
Acid Reducers For Heartburn
There are two types of drugs that cut down on the production of acid in the stomach: histamine antagonists and proton pump inhibitors .
Examples of H2 blockers available over the counter include:
Note: The H2 blocker ranitidine, which was in older Zantac products, was removed from the market in 2020 after it was found to contain a cancer-causing agent.
The proton-pump inhibitors esomeprazole , lansoprazole , and omeprazole are sold over-the-counter to treat frequent heartburn for 14 days. These types of medicines are also available as higher-strength prescriptions. Take them according to the directions on the package or as advised by your doctor.
If these medications don’t relieve your symptoms, or if your heartburn symptoms get worse or last for longer than 2 weeks, you should see your doctor.
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How Should I Take An H2 Blocker
If you have mild reflux symptoms that occur less than two times a week, you can start with a low dose of or . Ranitidine , another H2 blocker, was recently removed from the market because it was found to contain higher-than-acceptable levels of cancer-causing substances. But to date, FDAs testing has not found this substance in famotidine or cimetidine products.
To prevent reflux symptoms, both famotidine and cimetidine work better when taken 10 to 60 minutes before eating food or drinking beverages that cause reflux. If symptoms persist, you can take one more dose within 24 hours. But remember: H2 blockers are only good for short-term use. Do not take the maximum daily dose continuously for more than 2 weeks, unless directed by your doctor. Once your acid reflux improves, stop the medication. Its very important to know that almost all H2 blockers dont work well after a period of time since the stomach adjusts and they become much less effective.
If your reflux is more frequent or severe, you may have GERD, which is a more severe form of reflux. Your doctor may have you take an H2 blocker twice daily for up to 6 weeks or a proton pump inhibitor , which we will cover next.
How Much Do H2 Blockers Cost
H2 blockers are available in brand and generic versions. Generics tend to be cheaper than brands.
Generic appears to be more affordable than . The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of generic famotidine is about $7, which is 59% off the average retail price of $17.08. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of cimetidine is around $17.80, which is 67% off the average retail price of $54.48.
What To Take For Heartburn
I just learned that the FDA has banned the heartburn drug Zantac, which Ive been taking for years. Whats wrong with it and what should I take instead?
Andrew Weil, M.D. | May 12, 2020
On April 1, the FDA asked manufacturers to withdraw all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine products from the market. The agency acted after an investigation revealed that when these acid reflux medications are stored at higher temperatures, levels of the contaminant NDMA they contain rise high enough to be considered a probable human carcinogen.
In announcing its action, the FDA noted that in September 2019 it warned of the potential risk ranitidine poses and urged consumers to consider alternatives. In its April 1 announcement the agency said its tests also showed that the older the products, the higher the levels of NDMA. The FDA recommended that consumers who take over-the-counter Zantac dispose of any supplies they have properly and that those who take prescription forms of the drug speak to their doctors about alternatives before stopping treatment.
Most of these products were withdrawn from the market last year , and large drug store chains took them off their shelves after concern was first raised about NDMA. The FDA reported that while NDMA is also present in some foods and water, those levels are too low increase the risk of cancer.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Taking Heartburn Medicine 3+ Times A Week May Cause Harm
Antacids like Tums and Rolaids contain calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide to help neutralize the acid in your stomach. They can provide fast, short-term relief and do not have lasting harmful side effects if taken as directed. Follow dosage recommendations though because high levels of calcium carbonate in the body can cause constipation, nausea, mood changes or even heart rate changes. But acid neutralizers are considered safe when taken properly and are often used for calcium supplementation as well as heartburn relief.
H-2 Blockers and Proton Pump Inhibitors
H-2 blockers like Zantac, Tagamet and Pepcid reduce the production of stomach acid. They are effective in treating peptic ulcers and reflux in people who have heartburn a few times per month but are not intended for everyday use. Some research suggests that overuse of H-2 blockers can cause headaches, constipation and nausea, but their long-term use has not been extensively studied.
Proton-pump inhibitors like Prevacid, Prilosec or Nexium are stronger than H-2 blockers and work by blocking acid-producing cells in the lining of the stomach. They provide lasting relief from symptoms of GERD and are available without a prescription.
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Ways To Quell The Fire Of Heartburn
Heartburn is a common problem. It’s caused by the backwash of stomach acid into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach. This is formally called gastroesophageal reflux disease . More than just a minor discomfort, heartburn can significantly reduce quality of life. “Heartburn can cause damage to the esophagus and even increase the risk of cancer if ignored and untreated,” says Dr. William Kormos, editor in chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch and a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.
These eight steps can help ease heartburn.
How Should I Take A Proton Pump Inhibitor
PPIs include , , , and . They are all now available with a prescription. You can also find them over the counter, with the exception of pantoprazole.
PPIs should be taken on an empty stomach about 30 minutes to 1 hour before you eat breakfast, once a day for 14 days unless otherwise directed by your doctor. It can take 1 to 4 days for full effect but some people get complete symptom relief within 24 hours.
If you need to take a PPI for more than 14 days, your doctor may have you continue taking it for 4 to 8 weeks. Youll want to let your doctor know if your reflux continues or worsens.
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How Long Heartburn Lasts
Heartburn can last anywhere from several minutes to a few hours, depending on the underlying cause.
For example, after eating a spicy meal, mild heartburn can last for as long as it takes to digest the food but the symptoms may reoccur a few hours after youve eaten, when you lie down in bed at night or when bending over.
Bending over allows gravity to help pull the acid from the stomach, potentiating the severity of heartburn symptoms. The symptoms often awaken a person during the night, while sleeping.
Occasional heartburn goes away on its own and can often be prevented by avoiding certain foods . But when heartburn is severe, it usually requires medical treatment.
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.
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Ways To Prevent Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Most of us are all too familiar with the painful, burning sensation in the center of the chest thats associated with heartburn.
In fact, up to 28% of adults in North America experience gastroesophageal reflux disease , a common condition that causes heartburn. GERD occurs when acid is pushed up from the stomach back into the esophagus, which leads to the heartburn sensation .
Although people often use medications to treat acid reflux and heartburn, many lifestyle modifications can also help you reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Here are 14 natural ways to reduce your acid reflux and heartburn, all backed by scientific research.
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Avoid Food And Drink Triggers
Some heartburn triggers are common while others will vary for each individual.
- Drinking alcohol before, during, or after meals can worsen heartburn because alcohol weakens the LES muscle. In addition, drinking alcohol can result in eating more than you intended and making poorer food choices.
- Avoid foods and beverages that weaken the LES muscle. These foods include chocolate, peppermint, caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages, alcohol, fatty foods, and greasy or fried foods.
- Avoid foods and beverages that may irritate the esophagus. These include citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato-based products, chili peppers, and black pepper.
- Create a heartburn-friendly diet by keeping a food diary to record which foods are safer for you and which are more likely to trigger heartburn. You may be able to enjoy some foods occasionally or in smaller amounts, while you will find others need to be avoided most of the time.
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Who May Not Be Able To Take Antacids
Antacids are safe for most people to take, but they’re not suitable for everyone.
Speak to a pharmacist or a GP for advice first if you:
- are pregnant or breastfeeding most antacids are considered safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding, but always get advice first
- are looking for a medicine for a child under 12 years of age some antacids are not recommended for children
- have liver disease, kidney disease or heart failure some antacids may not be safe if you have one of these problems
- have an illness that means you need to control how much salt is in your diet, such as high blood pressure or cirrhosis some antacids contain high levels of sodium, which could make you unwell
- are taking other medicines antacids can interfere with other medicines and may need be avoided or taken at a different time
Page last reviewed: 13 November 2019 Next review due: 13 November 2022
How Do You Prevent Heartburn
Avoiding or addressing your triggers can help keep heartburn at bay. When in doubt, talk to your doctor about your symptoms, especially if youre experiencing heartburn 2 or more times per week, advises Rooker.
The Mayo Clinic advises some other simple steps you can take to reduce stomach pressure. These include:
- Eating at least 3 hours before bed
- Elevating the head of your bed if you experience discomfort at night
- Avoiding large meals
For many, a combination of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications can treat heartburn right at home. For those with more severe symptoms or GERD, prescription medications and other treatments may be used.
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Heartburn From Viagra Conclusion
One common side effect of using Viagra, or its generic form Sildenafil, is a feeling of heartburn during the time the medication is working.
This side effect stems from the medication doing what it is supposed to do loosening the muscles. But, when this happens to the muscle dividing your stomach from your esophagus, it could mean acid reflux.
Start by making sure you are drinking lots of water with your dose to lessen the heartburn.
But, if that does not work you can ask your doctor about reducing your dose, or trying over-the-counter antacid medications.
Anything that can cause heartburn already, may also worsen the reflux from taking Viagra. So, steer clear of alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, fried foods, or large meals when using Viagra to avoid a worse bout of heartburn.
How Should This Medicine Be Used
Prescription omeprazole comes as a delayed-release capsule, and packets of delayed-release granules for suspension to take by mouth or give through a feeding tube. Nonprescription omeprazole comes as a delayed-release tablet to take by mouth. Prescription omeprazole should be taken at least 1 hour before a meal. Prescription omeprazoleis usually taken once a day before a meal but may be taken twice a day when used with other medications to eliminate H. pylori, or up to three times a day, before meals when used to treat conditions in which the stomach produces too much acid. The nonprescription delayed-release tablets are usually taken once a day in the morning at least 1 hour before eating for 14 days in a row. If needed, additional 14-day treatments may be repeated, not more often than once every 4 months. To help you remember to take omeprazole, take it at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label or the package label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take omeprazole exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor or stated on the package.
If you are taking the delayed-release tablets, swallow them whole with a full glass of water. Do not split, chew, or crush them or crush and mix them into food.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.
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