Why Does Heartburn Increase With Age
There are a few reasons why heartburn may increase with age. One of the reasons is the aging of muscles. One of the leading causes of acid reflux is the muscle mentioned above, the lower esophageal sphincter . Just like muscles in your legs and arms, your internal muscles weaken with age as well. When this happens, youre more likely to have frequent cases of reflux or heartburn. Also, medications are a big factor. As we age and are diagnosed with more minor and moderate health problems, our needs for medication increase. Many medication classes as a whole, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medications, are linked to increased heartburn.
Other factors associated with aging that can contribute to heartburn are weight gain and hiatal hernia. Many patients over 60 have a hiatal hernia, where the upper part of the stomach becomes pushed into the chest cavity, which can interfere with the esophageal tract. Weight gain throughout all age groups is associated with heartburn, but as older persons become less active, their weight begins to increase, as do bouts of heartburn.
When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your heartburn wont go away.
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
- Its hard or hurts to swallow.
- Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
- You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
- You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
- You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
Note The Time Your Heartburn Symptoms Occur
Think, too, about when the heartburn occurs. Galier says if it happens after a big meal, and it’s just the burning in the chest, with no other symptoms, itâs more than likely heartburn or indigestion. But if you have any doubt, it’s wise to ask your doctor for an evaluation.
“If you have chest pain after a meal, it’s more likely to be reflux,” agrees Glenn Eisen, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and director of endoscopy at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. But that’s not a perfect test, he says. “It could be cardiac.”
Phil Katz, MD, says that knowing what “classic” heartburn is like may help. Katz is president-elect of the American College of Gastroenterology and clinical professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
âThe classic heartburn symptom,â he tells WebMD, âis burning that starts at the upper stomach or lower breastbone and progresses upward and occurs after a meal or when bending over.” He adds, “It’s rapidly relieved by an antacid within a few minutes.â
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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:
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.
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How Yogurt Might Trigger Heartburn
Yogurt may trigger or aggravate heartburn, in part, because some brands are high in total fat and contain saturated fat, which can worsen GERD. A study published in January 2005 in Gut found that high fat intake was associated with an increased risk of GERD symptoms and inflammation of the esophagus. Researchers theorize that high-fat foods might increase the risk of reflux since they stay in the stomach longer, stimulating more acid release. These foods might also cause relaxation of the muscular band between the esophagus and stomach, allowing stomach contents to leak into the esophagus. Yogurt is also slightly acidic, which can add to irritation of the esophagus during episodes of reflux.
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An Alternative Heartburn Treatment Option
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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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.
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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When Is Heartburn Considered Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Its that familiar burning or painful sensation in the chest that pretty much everyone has experienced often enough to immediately declare it a case of heartburn. However, some people arent sure if what the heartburn they feel is normal or a more serious, common condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
How Acid Reflux And Gerd May Damage The Throat
In addition to potentially damaging the lower esophagus, frequent heartburn or GERD may also damage the upper throat. This can occur if the stomach acid comes all the way up into the back of the throat or nasal airway. This condition is often referred to as laryngopharyngeal reflux .
LPR is also sometimes called silent reflux, because it doesnt always present symptoms that people readily recognize. Its important for individuals with GERD to be checked for LPR to avoid any potential throat or voice damage. Symptoms of LPR may include the following:
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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.
Avoid Late Night Eating
Eating late at night can cause acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion. This is because the bodys digestive system is not designed to cope with large meals just before bed. In order for our digestive system to work at its best, we ideally need to be sitting upright. Lying down can cause acid in the stomach to leak out into the oesophagus, causing heartburn.
To avoid this happening, hold off on eating large meals late at night, or try to avoid lying down until you have digested your food fully, a process that should take around three hours. By keeping your digestive system happy while you sleep, you should find that you wake up feeling fresh and heartburn-free.
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Mucus In Throat After Eating
There are many reasons a person may experience mucus in throat after eating, including food allergies, post-nasal drip, medication side effects, chronic rhinitis, laryngopharyngeal reflux, being a heavy smoker, and viral or bacterial infections.
In order to reduce mucus in throat after a meal, increase your fluid intake to help loosen up mucus, inhale steam after your meal, avoid foods youre allergic to, gargle lukewarm water with salt, drink herbal tea after the meal, and stop smoking or begin to cut back.Related: How to get rid of cough?
Why Do You Get Reflux More At Night
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 youÃ¢re 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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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?
How Gerd May Damage The Esophagus
That burning sensation you feel with heartburn is stomach acid harming the lining of the esophagus. Over time, repeated exposure of stomach acid to the lining of the esophagus can cause a condition known as esophagitis.
Esophagitis is an inflammation of the esophagus that makes it prone to injuries like erosions, ulcers, and scar tissue. Symptoms of esophagitis may include pain, difficulty swallowing, and more acid regurgitation.
A doctor can diagnose this condition with a combination of tests, including an upper endoscopy and biopsy.
Your doctor will likely begin treatment immediately if youve been diagnosed with esophagitis, as an inflamed esophagus can lead to more health complications.
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Common Foods And Beverages That Trigger Heartburn
Although it is possible to experience heartburn when hungry, it is more likely to occur after you eat. Many foods that cause heartburn and indigestion for some people have no effect on others. To get to the bottom of whats causing your heartburn, try keeping track of what you ate right before symptoms occurred in a food journal. You might also want to note which foods seem to relieve your symptoms. Over time, youll be able to notice trends so you can adjust your diet accordingly.
Here are the most common foods that trigger heartburn symptoms for most people:
- Alcohol can cause the LES to relax, which triggers heartburn.
- The acid in coffee, orange juice, and other acidic beverages may trigger heartburn.
- Spicy, fried, and fatty foods are common heartburn triggers.
- Acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes may trigger symptoms.
Is There Anything Besides Eating That Leads To Heartburn
Besides eating a heavy meal, heavy lifting can cause heartburn, says Galier. So can exercise. And lying flat, especially after eating a big meal, can lead to heartburn, too.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer, Eisen says, noting that some people think only obesity raises heartburn risk. He also points out that pregnant women can suffer heartburn. He says thatâs probably because elevated levels of the hormone progesterone cause a temporary weakness in the LES.
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Mucus In Throat Every Morning
If you wake up each day with mucus in throat, which you feel needs to be expelled, there are a few different reasons for that. For starters, mucus in throat in the morning could be a result of an infection or allergy, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or it could be a sign of congestive heart failure.Congestive heart failure, in particular, can cause daily mucus in throat each morning, because the heart has a difficult time moving high amounts of blood through the body, causing fluid buildup. This fluid accumulates in the lungs, especially when a person is laying flat throughout the night. The result is a wet cough in the morning or throughout the night.
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Things To Stop Doing If You Have Gerd
Chronic heartburn is often associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease . When you have this condition, stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. This can cause heartburn, a burning sensation in your chest.
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When To Call The Doctor About Heartburn Or Reflux
If you have any of the following heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms or conditions, contact your doctor.
- Your heartburn symptoms have become more severe or frequent.
- You are having difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing, especially with solid foods or pills.
- Your heartburn is causing you to have nausea or vomiting .
- You’ve experienced a drastic or unexplained weight loss accompanied by heartburn.
- You have a chronic cough, choking sensation or sense of a lump in your throat.
- You have been using over-the-counter antacid medications for more than two weeks , and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription or nonprescription medications.
- You have chronic hoarseness or wheezing, or your asthma has worsened.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
- You are having chest pain accompanied by pain in the neck, jaw, arms, or legs shortness of breath, weakness, irregular pulse, or sweating.