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What To Do If You Have Severe Heartburn

Foods That May Cause Heartburn

7 Foods to Avoid if you have Heartburn or GERD/GORD

Foods commonly known to be heartburn triggers cause the esophageal sphincter to relax and delay the digestive process, letting food sit in the stomach longer, says Gupta. The worst culprits? Foods that are high in fat, salt or spice such as:

  • Fried food
  • Peppermint
  • Carbonated beverages

“Moderation is key since many people may not be able to or want to completely eliminate these foods,” says Gupta. “But try to avoid eating problem foods late in the evening closer to bedtime, so they’re not sitting in your stomach and then coming up your esophagus when you lay down at night. It’s also a good idea to eat small frequent meals instead of bigger, heavier meals and avoid late-night dinners and bedtime snacks.”

A Gastroenterologist Shares Steps To Identifying And Managing The Symptoms Of Acid Reflux As Well As Potential Triggers

Its never fun to experience discomfort after eating a good meal, but its a reality that thousands of people face every day. Gastroesophageal reflux diseasecommonly known as GERDis a chronic condition that affects the gastrointestinal system and causes uncomfortable symptoms, like heartburn. But GERD is more than just occasional heartburn: Its the recurring regurgitation of the stomach contents into the esophagus.

Symptoms and What They Can Mimic

People who suffer from GERD typically experience symptoms of reflux twice a week or more. Common symptoms of GERD can include heartburn, sour regurgitation, altered taste sensations and discomfort in the upper abdomen, says gastroenterologist Richard Denicola, MD. You can have any of these symptoms related to something else, but when they are persistent, it points to GERD.

Less common symptoms of GERD can include painful swallowing, unexplained coughing, throat clearing, wheezing and chest pain.

Its important to remember that GERD symptoms can sometimes mimic cardiac symptoms. So, if you experience chest pain of any kind, seek immediate medical attention to rule out anything serious. In addition, if youre having heartburn more than once per week, its a good idea to talk to your doctor about treatment options for GERD.

Risk Factors

Avoiding Potential Triggers

Managing Chronic GERD

Reasons For Getting Heartburn Every Day

Heartburn that happens occasionally is considered normal, but when we start experiencing it daily, it becomes a major problem.

  • Unhealthy diet: if we are not maintaining a healthy diet, then we might suffer heartburn. Overeating, obesity, overweight, or eating too fast can also cause heartburn. A healthy diet is essential to get rid of frequent heartburns. Eat your food slowly, do not rush. Take time to chew and swallow the food thoroughly. Smaller meals can reduce the risk of heartburn. Eliminate spicy food, citrus fruits, tomato, garlic, and onion from your diet. Caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks are also some of the major reasons behind heartburn.
  • Acid reflux disease: acid reflux disease is a common problem that many people suffer, leading to frequent heartburn. This happens when the valve in the esophagus opens and does not close tightly. This causes acid reflux, and we experience chronic heartburn. The lower esophageal sphincter gets permanently damaged. There are certain surgical techniques as well as tightening methods to wrap the esophageal valve.

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  • Disorders related to the stomach: an inflammation of the stomach lining can also turn to be the cause of heartburn. The lining of the digestive tract erodes due to excessive secretion of stomach acid. As a result, we suffer from chronic heartburn.
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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.

    How To Know If You Have Heartburn

    What Helps With Severe Heartburn?

    This article was co-authored by Peter Gardner, MD. Peter W. Gardner, MD is a board certified physician who has practiced Gastroenterology and Hepatology for over 30 years. He specializes in diseases of the digestive system and liver. Dr. Gardner earned his Bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina and attended Georgetown Medical School. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and then his fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Connecticut. He is a previous Chief of Gastroenterology at Stamford Hospital and remains on the staff. He is also on the staff of Greenwich Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Gardner is an Approved Consultant in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology with the American Board of Internal Medicine.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 33,847 times.

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    The More Severe Gerd Symptoms

    While many people will experience occasional and reasonably harmless bouts of GERD at times throughout their lives, when GERD becomes severe it can lead to a wide number of other health complications.

    These complications can include ulcers and a problem called Barretts esophagus, which is when throat cells start to mutate and eventually become cancerous if left untreated.

    Thats why its important to keep an eye out for severe GERD symptoms and take action when you see them.

    For starters, the frequency of GERD symptoms appearing is important. Someone who is having acid reflux symptoms several times a week is more at risk of developing complications than someone who only has the problems once every six months.

    Advanced GERD can cause a wide range of health problems, the symptoms of which can include problems like throat inflammation and asthma-like coughing and difficulty breathing.

    Lung infections can also develop when severe GERD is left untreated, often leading to a wet cough and breathing difficulties.

    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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    What To Do When The Pain Wont Stop

    Even if youre doing well on PPIs, its a good idea to have a backup plan to cope with breakthrough symptoms.

    About 73% of people with GERD taking prescription PPIs say theyre satisfied or very satisfied with the medication, according to a 2009 survey of 617 patients published in Current Medical Research and Opinion and funded by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Prevacid. Nevertheless, more than half56.7% of patients on once-a-day PPI therapy and 65.9% in the twice-a-day grouphad heartburn in the week before they took the survey.

    Overall, 40% said they resorted to other medications for acid reflux, mostly over-the-counter antacids or histamine-2 blockers.

    The most common reason that they were using the over-the-counter medicationis related to incomplete relief of their heartburn, explains lead author William D. Chey, MD, a professor of internal medicine and the director of the gastrointestinal physiology laboratory at the University of Michigan Health System, in Ann Arbor.

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    Patients werent reaching for additional heartburn soothers on their own. It turns out that roughly 60% were advised by their doctors to take antacids or H2 blockers to help with residual reflux symptoms, he says.

    How Is Heartburn & Reflux Diagnosed

    Do You Have Acid Reflux or GERD?

    Your doctor will ask you to describe your reflux symptoms and the length of time you have had them and review the need for prescribing you acid-suppressant medication. Should you require such medication long term or the treatment is not working, and your symptoms continue or return, your GP may request an endoscopy. This will ensure there are no underlying problems with your oesophagus or stomach. Up to half of all patients with symptoms that suggest they have reflux turn out to have only mild inflammation or an oesophagus that looks quite normal.

    Cytosponge: This is a new test that is available in some areas of the UK to identify Barretts oesophagus in people who have persistent heartburn and reflux symptoms. For the Cytosponge test you swallow a small capsule with a sponge inside, which is attached to a piece of thread. Approximately 7 min after swallowing it, the capsule dissolves in the stomach, and the sponge inside is released and then a nurse removes the sponge by pulling on the thread. On the way out the sponge collects cells from the oesophagus lining so that the laboratory can check if there are any changes in the cells.

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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.

    Proton Pump Inhibitors And H2 Blockers For Reducing Acid Production

    Two types of medication that your doctor may prescribe to you are proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers.

    Both of these can be highly effective at reducing acid production in the stomach. Both are also available in over-the-counter forms, although these arent as strong as the prescription versions.

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    How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Spitting Up Food Due To Gerd Or Something Else

    One of the telltale signs of GERD in babies is that vomiting often appears suddenly and with no effort there is often no retching .

    When it comes to the causes of GERD in babies and young children, it may simply be a matter of the food youve been using.

    On the other hand, the GERD may be caused by a more serious problem relating to the way the babies intestinal muscles are working.

    You can try changing your babys diet to see if it helps, but its generally best to be on the safe side and consult a doctor early to make sure the problem isnt anything that needs immediate treatment.

    Left untreated, GERD in babies can lead to more serious problems like pneumonia, problems with breathing and a slower rate of growth.

    Dont Drink Too Much Citrus Juice

    Got These Symptoms? It Could Be Time for the Heartburn ...

    Many types of citrus juice, including orange juice and grapefruit juice, are considered common triggers for heartburn .

    These ingredients are highly acidic and contain compounds like ascorbic acid, which could cause indigestion if you consume them in large amounts .

    In addition to being acidic, certain compounds found in citrus juice could irritate the lining of the esophagus .

    While citrus juice probably doesnt cause acid reflux directly, it could make your heartburn worse temporarily.

    Summary

    Some people with acid reflux report that drinking citrus juice makes their symptoms worse. Certain compounds in citrus juice, in addition to acids, can also irritate the lining of the esophagus.

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    Are There Any Tests For Heartburn

    If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.

    If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.

    There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:

    Why Heartburn Drugs Can Fail

    Its possible that PPIs arent curing your heartburn because youve been misdiagnosed, says gastroenterologist Joel Richter, MD, the chair of the department of medicine at Temple University, in Philadelphia.

    Many conditions cause symptoms that mimic those of gastroesophageal reflux disease , the medical term for persistent acid reflux that damages the esophagus. Muscle contractions, stretching, and non-acidic reflux in the esophagus can all lead to heartburn , as can unrelated conditions such as heart disease. There is a big group of people who get put on these medications and dont get better, and most of the time its because they dont have an acid-related problem, says Dr. Richter.

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    Many times symptoms arise because people arent taking their medication correctly or at a time that optimizes its effectiveness, Dr. Johnson explains. Typically, the proton pump inhibitors are given 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast, he says. However, some people do better taking two doses a day to stave off nighttime symptoms, he adds.

    And missing a pill may readily ignite that familiar burning sensation in the chest and throat and sour taste in the mouth.

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    Typical And Severe Symptoms Of Gerd: Dealing With Symptoms Of Acid Reflux Disease

    Having regular problems with your digestion? You may be suffering from symptoms of GERD GastroEsophagal Reflux Disease. Learning to recognize the symptoms of GERD can save you from a lot of unnecessary discomfort.

    Explained simply, GERD is a health problem in which acid is forced out of the intestines and back up the esophagus the pipe which food goes down when you swallow it, which leads into your intestines.

    The problem is more commonly known as heartburn or acid reflux, although heartburn itself is really just a symptom and can be caused by other health problems.

    Lets take a detailed look at how to recognize GERD in both adults and children, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it and how its usually treated.

    Ways To Help Your Heartburn

    How to fix Heartburn (GERD) at Night. Acid Reflux at Night Causes

    Fortunately, there are things acid reflux patients can do to help prevent and minimize breakthrough symptoms.

    Take your medication as prescribed. If you dont know how and when to take it, call your doctor for specific instructions.

    Dont hit the sack on a full belly. Lying down within three to four hours of consuming a large meal, particularly a late-evening feast, could spell trouble. “My big push is to keep the patients away from late eating, large meals and recumbency,” Dr. Johnson says. Such a triple threat may pose too large of an insult on the body, one that even PPIsthe gold standard in GERD treatmentcant handle. For nighttime symptoms , Dr. Johnson suggests elevating the head of the bed with some blocks or using a bed wedge to elevate the upper torso.

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    What Treatments Are Available For Heartburn & Acid Reflux

    Most treatments revolve around lifestyle changes as your symptoms are likely to lessen if you take measures to reduce the amount of reflux that you have. For example, stopping smoking and drinking less alcohol can all make a big difference to the discomfort you experience.

    Alcohol

    Check your alcohol intake and reduce if needed to within healthy guidelines, if you do have a large intake it might be better to discuss your intake with your GP before reducing it. You can use the online calculator here to work out how many units you are having. Healthy advice is not to have in excess of 14 units per week with some alcohol free days during the week.

    Smoking

    Ask you GP about NHS stopping smoking services where you live. There are a number of different methods to use and stopping can have other benefits to health. See here for more information

    Some foods are more likely than others to trigger reflux symptoms so you may find it helpful to look at how you eat as well as what you eat. Avoid late night, high fat meals so you dont go to bed with a full stomach. Eat your main evening meal three hours before going to bed3. Propping up your head when you sleep may also alleviate symptoms3. Eat little but more often, if necessary. Try to avoid bending forward or wearing tight clothes as this can put extra pressure on your tummy.

    Being overweight.

    These are split into 2 groups:

    Check If You Have Acid Reflux

    The main symptoms of acid reflux are:

    • heartburn a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
    • an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid

    You may also have:

    • a cough or hiccups that keep coming back
    • a hoarse voice

    Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.

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    What Are The Usual Symptoms Of Heartburn & Acid Reflux

    Heartburn often seems worse after rich meals, citrus fruit juice, hot beverages or alcohol. Occasionally it can be felt deeply within the chest, almost within the back although sometimes the burning feeling can reach all the way up to the throat2. Some patients notice acid reflux when some of the contents of their stomach repeat by coming back up the oesophagus as far as the throat or even the mouth. A few patients notice discomfort or pain as they swallow and may often experience frequent throat clearing, coughing and choking. It is quite common for these symptoms to be worse at night or when lying down.

    For most people with the condition, heartburn and reflux is just a nuisance and little more than that. In a few people, especially where there is severe inflammation of the oesophagus, there is a risk of complications. These can include internal bleeding and narrowing of the gullet. One in ten people with acid reflux have Barretts Oesophagus12, 13. This is a condition that can, very rarely, progress to cancer of the lower oesophagus. If you are worried about these complications, discuss them with your GP.

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