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Why Am I Getting Frequent Heartburn

Dietary And Lifestyle Changes

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It is helpful for some individuals who have constant heartburn to avoid certain foods that may trigger their symptoms.

Foods that are associated with heartburn include:

  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Alcohol
  • Foods high in citric acids, such as oranges or lemons

It may be helpful to eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than infrequent large meals.

If you suffer from acid reflux, it may be helpful to elevate your upper body at night while sleeping.

Difficulty Swallowing And Sore Throat

If stomach acids go all the way up your esophagus, they can reach the back of your throat. This condition is called laryngopharyngeal reflux . Besides heartburn, you might feel symptoms like a in your throat or a . You may constantly need to clear your throat or have trouble swallowing. Lifestyle changes can usually correct LPR. Try eating a bland diet and stop eating three hours before bed. If you are overweight, losing weight may help relieve pressure on your stomach. Also skip caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.

How Can I Prevent Heartburn

There are many steps you can take to help prevent heartburn:

  • Avoid foods or drinks that may trigger your symptoms, such as acidic foods, high fat foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, mint, and carbonated drinks.
  • Wait at least 3 hours after eating to lie down.
  • Place blocks or books under your bed to elevate the head of your bed. This can help prevent stomach acid from traveling back up your esophagus.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes, which can put pressure on your stomach and lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than two or three large ones to help ease the impact on your digestive system.
  • Chew sugarless gum after eating. A

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How Long Does Heartburn Last

Heartburn can affect people differently. In general, heartburn symptoms begin shortly after eating and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, or even longer.

How long you experience symptoms depends on the underlying cause. It also depends on what you do at the first sign of symptoms. For example, sometimes heartburn symptoms last until your body digests the triggering food. Other times, it goes away if you stand up instead of lying down after eating.

If you take OTC antacids or prescription medications as part of a treatment plan, you may experience a shorter duration or fewer heartburn symptoms.

Heartburn typically occurs when contents from the stomach back up into the esophagus. The esophagus is a tube that carries food and fluids from the mouth into the stomach.

Your esophagus connects to your stomach at a juncture known as the lower esophageal sphincter. If the lower esophageal sphincter is functioning properly, it closes when food leaves the esophagus and enters the stomach.

In some people, the lower esophageal sphincter doesnt function properly or it becomes weakened. This leads to contents from the stomach leaking back into the esophagus. Stomach acids can irritate the esophagus and cause symptoms of heartburn. This condition is known as reflux.

Certain conditions and other factors may make it more likely for you to experience heartburn. Risk factors include:

What Exactly Is Heartburn Anyway

Get Relief from Frequent Heartburn

Heartburnor gastroesophageal reflux or acid refluxis a painful burning feeling in your chest or your throat, according to the US National Library of Medicine .

Basically, heartburn happens when your esophagus relaxes too much and stomach acid comes back up into your esophagus, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . It can be managed by making changes to your diet, like cutting back on coffee and alcohol, or through medications.

Having heartburn every once in a while, like after a spicy meal or taking a nap too soon after eating, is normal but if it occurs more than twice a week for more than a few weeks, it’s time to see a doctorin that case, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease , a chronic, sometimes damaging form of heartburn.

But GERD isn’t the only issue that is related to heartburn. Many other conditionssome even life-threateningcan mimic the feeling of heartburn. Here, nine other conditions that heartburn could be masquerading asand when to see your doctor about it.

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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.

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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Prevent Coffee Heartburn By Getting A Safe Amount Of Caffeine

A big player in the cause of acid reflux is overcaffeination. When your caffeine intake is too high, the muscle that connects the stomach to the esophagus is relaxed.1 When this happens, an opening is created for stomach acid to come up into your esophagus, which causes acid reflux. Ew! Thats pretty gross.

So how do we make sure we have a safe amount of caffeine? Most experts agree 600mg per day is overcaffeination.2 For some such as pregnant mothers, its advised to be 200mg .3 According to Health Canada the federal health department in Canada 400mg is a safe daily caffeine consumption rate.4

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Will Heartburn Go Away On Its Own

Your breathing problems may actually be caused by your stomach, not asthma

For many people, occasional heartburn is common. By watching what you eat and avoiding certain triggers , you may be able to prevent heartburn or manage it. If you find that you frequently experience heartburn and that it keeps getting worse, it could be a sign of a medical condition like GERD. In these cases, your heartburn will not go away without treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider so that you can develop a treatment plan.

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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.”

What Are My Options If These Treatments Dont 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.

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Eating Too Close To Bedtime Causes Heartburn

Eating within 2 to 3 hours of lying down is a problem, Brown says.

Your body can only do so much to fight gravity. And if youre hitting the sack on a full stomach, youre helping the contents of your belly slide up into your esophagus, he says.

Especially for people diagnosed with GERD, eating before lying down is a no-no, shows research from Japan. Even sitting back or reclining too soon after a meal could trigger heartburn, Dardarian says.

Should You Be Worried About Frequent Heartburn

How I Deal with Frequent Heartburn

It is common to experience a little heartburn after eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol. It may feel like chest pain or burning after eating, a sour taste in the back of the throat or hoarseness. But suffering daily, long-lasting or frequent heartburn symptoms should not be ignored and may indicate a more serious condition.

    It is common to experience a little heartburn after eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol. It may feel like chest pain or burning after eating, a sour taste in the back of the throat or hoarseness. But suffering daily, long-lasting or frequent heartburn symptoms should not be ignored and may indicate a more serious condition.

    As many as 15 million Americans suffer from daily heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease . This chronic but treatable condition refers to irritation and damage to the lining of the esophagus from prolonged exposure to stomach acid. This damage occurs because of a weakening of the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach which allows acid to leak up into the esophagus.

    Typical treatments for GERD may include medication to reduce stomach acid and simple lifestyle changes to help reduce the reflux symptoms such as avoiding trigger foods, decreasing portion sizes, losing weight, quitting smoking, elevating the head of the bed, and not eating before bedtime.

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    What If Medication Or Lifestyle Changes Don’t Help

    Your provider may request more testing if lifestyle changes and medication did not help. These tests include a pH test to check for acid in your esophagus or an endoscopy. This test uses a small tube with a camera and light to see inside of your digestive tract and spot any issues.

    MedlinePlus National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases American College of Gastroenterology

    Image credit:

    What Makes Your Heartburn Worsen Over Time

    There are four common reasons for increased heartburn.

  • Aging muscles
  • Your muscles weaken as you grow older. And that includes one critical to fending off heartburn the lower esophageal sphincter.

    Food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. This sphincter controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. It typically remains tightly closed except when you swallow food. But as you age, it can weaken and stop functioning properly.

  • Weight gain
  • Many older adults carry extra weight that can weaken the sphincter further. And, for reasons that arent entirely clear, the risk and severity of GERD is higher for those who are overweight, Dr. Gabbard says.

  • Medications
  • As you age, your health problems increase and so does your need for medication.

    Some blood pressure and antidepressant medications can cause heartburn. Also opiates, says Dr. Gabbard. Being overweight and taking certain medications may be the major driving factors for heartburn.

  • Hiatal hernia
  • With age often comes a hiatal hernia, where the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity.

    Sixty percent of people over 60 have a hiatal hernia, Dr. Gabbard says. Most are small and do not cause problems, but the larger ones put you at risk for heartburn.

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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.

    Why Do You Get Reflux More At Night

    Why do I get heartburn every time I eat or drink?

    You may experience more reflux at night than during the day. The reason for this is gravity. When you sit or stand, gravity helps move the food through your esophagus and into the stomach. When youâre laying down, you lose the effect of gravity on the food traveling through your digestive system. Laying down also prevents gravity from keeping bile and acids from traveling up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Because of this, many people find their heartburn is worse at night.

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    Treatment Options For Heartburn

    FDA identifies three classes of OTC medications for treating occasional heartburn. These include:

    • Antacids. These medications help neutralize stomach acid. They can provide quick relief of heartburn symptoms. Common antacids are:
    • Mylanta
  • omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate
  • Although these medications can be helpful, they may have side effects, according to the NIDDK . Antacids can cause constipation or diarrhea. PPIs may cause headache, diarrhea, or upset stomach. Talk with your doctor about any medications youre already taking to see if youre at risk for any drug interactions.

    If OTC medications do not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may be able to prescribe stronger versions of these medications.

    Links Between Age And Heartburn

    • Links Between Age and Heartburn

    When you were younger, you likely could go out for Mexican or have a late-night snack with no repercussions at all, but perhaps now youre feeling some of the effects of overindulging or eating spicy food. There is no one clear age where heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease see a specific spike, but its a fact of life that heartburn does worsen as we get older. Read on to learn the difference between heartburn and GERD, how to manage the symptoms you have, and how to prevent heartburn from worsening.

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    Reasons Not To Ignore Heartburn Symptoms

    For most Americans, heartburn is just an occasional problem. Sixty million people get it at least once a month.

    But for the 19 million people who have a chronic form of heartburn known as gastroesophageal reflux disease , untreated symptoms can lead to a variety of health complications.

    If you experience frequent or extended heartburn , see your doctor. Here are nine reasons why you shouldnt ignore signs of GERD.

    Esophagitis In GERD, food, acid and digestive juices flow back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Over time, this causes irritation and swelling, known as esophagitis. “If you have acid exposure in the esophagus for even as little as a few weeks, you can develop inflammation of the lining,” says Anish Sheth, M.D., assistant professor of digestive diseases at Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven Conn. “It can be very uncomfortable, even painful, and can leave the esophagus vulnerable to even more harmful erosion or scarring.”

    Esophageal stricture If esophagitis goes on too long, scar tissue can narrow the esophagus. Called a stricture, this can make it hard or painful to swallow. Large pieces of food can get stuck and may require endoscopy to remove them. You may also be at risk of choking, and you can lose too much weight if you avoid food and drinks because of a stricture.

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    Work with your doctor, who may consider lung function when treating reflux.

    An Alternative Heartburn Treatment Option

    Relief for Heartburn at Night

    Now that you know more about why you might be getting heartburn even when you havent eaten and seen some of the treatment options, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the information.

    There are indeed many different causes of heartburn.

    Its also true that there are many different ways that people try to treat their heartburn symptoms.

    Figuring out which cause and method fit with your heartburn can make it seem like you will never find a solution, but thats not necessarily true.

    Another option that you have besides the typical solutions of no acids and try medicine would be to take the holistic approach laid out in the Heartburn No More program.

    This program teaches you a clear and systematic way to address your chronic heartburn, whether it is food-based or not, and reduce the effect it has on you for good.

    If you want to try something different than the usual approaches, try this program that covers a wide array of beneficial information that will help you feel better than you have in ages.

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