Reasons Why Your Heartburn Medicine Isn’t Working
Perhaps you’ve been misdiagnosed. Perhaps your diet is exacerbating your symptoms. Find out why heartburn meds can let you down, and what to do about it.
If you have horrible, persistent heartburn, relief can be as simple as popping a pill once or twice a day. Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, put the kibosh on the stomachs acid production, keeping gastric juice from backing up into the esophagus and causing pain.
But they dont work for everyone. Even if youre one of those people who does well on PPIs you can still have breakthrough symptoms from time to time, when heartburn flares into an agonizing episode.
Studies suggest that up to 40% of people with heartburn who take a PPI once a day still experience heartburn or other breakthrough symptoms once in a while, says David A. Johnson, MD, a professor of medicine and the chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., and past president of the American College of Gastroenterology.
Find out why heartburn meds can let you downand what to do about it.
Structural Physiology And Aetiology
Heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux all commonly occur in pregnancy, usually in the latter stage, although they may also accompany first trimester nausea and vomiting. Symptoms are largely due to the effects of progesterone, which relaxes the cardiac sphincter of the stomach, causing acid reflux. It is worse in women with multiple pregnancy and when the fetal presentation is breech, due to upwards pressure on the diaphrgam. Some mothers may experience a burning sensation at varying levels in the oesophagus, which will usually correspond to tender areas on the oesophagus reflex zones of the feet, relative to the level of heartburn. Mechanical distress also occurs at the junction of the oesophagus, cardiac sphincter and stomach due to changes within the abdominal/uterine cavities, the spinal kyphosis/lordosis and the inter-relationship between the shoulder and pelvic girdles. Heartburn is also often exacerbated by the weight of the breasts, particularly if the mother wears an ill-fitting brassiere, or if her general posture is poor with an accentuated thoracic kyphosis.
Suzanne Yates BA DipHSEC MRSS APNT PGCE, in, 2010
What Does Severe Acid Reflux Feel Like
The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat, or like you are choking or your throat is tight.
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What Else Should I Know
Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce or even stop uncomfortable GERD symptoms. Untreated GERD can cause permanent damage to the esophagus.
You’ll probably find that one of the simplest ways to make living with GERD easier is to avoid the things that trigger your symptoms. Some people will have to limit certain foods others may have to give them up entirely. It all depends on your symptoms.
It can be hard to give up sodas or favorite foods at first. But after a while, lots of people discover that they feel so much better that they don’t miss the problem foods as much as they thought they would.
Antibiotics Heartburn Caused By Esophageal Irritation
Antibiotics are one of many caustic pills that cause esophagitis. The more caustic the antibiotic greater the risk of irritation.
What is esophagitis? Esophagitis is the inflammation of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Common causes of esophagitis are acid reflux, medications, and infections affecting the esophagus. The irritation caused by esophagitis can be painful and make swallowing difficult.
Esophagitis is commonly caused by antibiotics accounting for close to half of all reported cases of pill-induced esophagitis. Doxycycline, tetracycline, and clindamycin are a few of many that make up a long list of antibiotics that cause esophagitis.
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How Good Gut Bacteria Loss From Antibiotic Use Causes Heartburn
How can the lack of good bacteria from the use of antibiotics lead to acid reflux symptoms like heartburn? When good bacteria in the digestive system are killed by antibiotics, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can lead to excessive gas, bloating, belching, reduced stomach acid, and constipation. All of which can lead to heartburn.
Antibiotics Heartburn from Gas and Bloating
Bad bacteria produce hydrogen and methane gas causing an increase in abdominal pressure.
This increase in abdominal pressure will weaken the lower esophageal sphincter prohibiting it from closing tightly enough to keep stomach acid from refluxing into the esophagus. The LES is a ring of muscle at the base of the esophagus that opens as food travels to the stomach and closes to keep acid reflux from occurring.
The gas produced by bad bacteria not only causes abdominal pressure. It can lead to belching. Belching will help lower abdominal pressure, but it can also force stomach acid through the LES into the esophagus.
Antibiotics Heartburn from Reduced Stomach Acid
An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the digestive system will cause a reduction in stomach acid. This initially sounds great to those suffering from acid reflux symptoms like heartburn, however, stomach acid actually triggers the LES to close. If the LES doesnt close tightly enough, acid reflux can occur.
Constipation After Discontinuation of Antibiotics Can Lead to Heartburn
Why does constipation occur after discontinuing antibiotics?
Why Do I Keep Getting Heartburn Every Day
The actual reason behind getting heartburn regularly and a few simple remedies
As the name suggests, many of us may think that heartburn is related to the heart. When we notice irritation in your esophagus, then we call it heartburn. The esophagus is the tube that forms a connection between our throat and stomach. The stomach acid formed can create a feeling of discomfort around the area of our upper belly.
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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.
How And When To Take Antacids
Check the instructions on the packet or leaflet to see how much antacid to take and how often. This depends on the exact medicine you’re taking.
Antacids should be used when you have symptoms or think you will get them soon for most people, the best time to take them is with or soon after meals, and just before going to bed.
Remember that doses for children may be lower than for adults.
Contact a GP or pharmacist, or call NHS 111, if you take too much of the medicine and start to feel unwell.
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What Are The Main Symptoms Of Gerd
The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat, or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.
Complications Of Gerd And Acid Reflux
Ulcers Stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers. These ulcers have the potential to bleed. To check for bleeding ulcers, your doctor may recommend a stool sample test called hemocult.
Stricture Damage caused by acid reflux can cause the esophagus to scar and narrow. This is called stricture. Over time, stricture could cause a blockage of food and require treatment. The scar tissue is a result of ulcers that occur and heal over time.
Lung and throat problems Acid reflux in the throat could lead to irritation or inflammation of the vocal cords or a sore throat. If the acid is inhaled into the lungs, it could cause aspiration pneumonia or symptoms of asthma. If the acid reflux is chronic, it could eventually cause permanent lung damage including pulmonary fibrosis or bronchiectasis.
Barrettâs esophagus Barrettâs esophagus occurs when the cells in the lower esophagus transform. The transformation is usually caused by damage to the esophageal lining, most often from chronic acid reflux or GERD. There is a small chance these cells may develop into cancer. Patients with Barretts esophagus should have an upper endoscopy done periodically to look for early signs of cancer.
Esophageal cancer Barrettâs esophagus is a major risk factor for developing esophageal cancer. The rate of esophageal cancer is on the rise, but relatively few people with GERD develop Barrettâs esophagus and even fewer people with Barrettâs esophagus develop esophageal cancer.
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How Is Heartburn Diagnosed
Often all that a health-care professional requires is a thorough history and physical to make the preliminary diagnosis of heartburn. To evaluate if there is any damage and how severe your heartburn is, the doctor my suggest some of the following tests:
- Endoscopy: A flexible scope is passed down the esophagus to examine the esophagus as well as the stomach. Biopsies can be taken if indicated. This lets the doctor see if there is any obvious damage, and also eliminate other reasons for the patient’s symptoms .
- Upper GI series : After drinking a liquid that coats the inside of the digestive tract, X-rays are taken. These X-rays will show the outline of the digestive system.
- Ambulatory pH testing: This test measures the acidity in the esophagus via a small tube that goes through the nose into the stomach.
Six Signs Your Heartburn Could Be Something More Serious
That burning, uncomfortable sensation in your chest? Itâs probably heartburn. Heartburn is a very common ailment that affects many people for many reasons. It occurs when digestive acid escapes the stomach and irritates the delicate lining of the esophagus.
Usually, itâs the result of eating certain foods, or simply overeating, and can be treated with over-the-counter antacids. But sometimes, heartburn is a symptom of bigger problems, that require other solutions. Hereâs when to call a doctor:
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What Is Heartburn
Heartburn is an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest that can move up your neck and throat. This can be a symptom of many different conditions, including acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease and even pregnancy.
When you are experiencing heartburn, you may also have a bitter or sour taste in the back of your throat. Heartburn can last from a few minutes to several hours. It often feels worse after you eat or when you lay down too quickly after eating.
When Will It End
Heartburn symptoms are usually mild and manageable. Tell your healthcare provider if your heartburn is severe, if you spit up blood, or have dark-colored bowel movements. This is a sign of blood in your digestive tract. Fortunately, heartburn usually ends with the birth of your baby and your body goes back to its nonpregnant state.
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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.
Three Ways To Prevent Coffee Heartburn
All too often, I hear people say I cant drink coffee because it gives me heartburn! Yes, acid reflux is a real problem that many people experience after drinking coffee. However, not all coffee is created equal! Many people associate their heartburn problem with coffee as a whole, not realizing that there are very specific reasons that a particular brand of coffee causes it.
In fact, by following these 3 Ways to Prevent Coffee Heartburn its quite possible to drink coffee and be worry-free about heartburn and acid reflux.
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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.
What Foods Are Bad For Heartburn
Food and drinks that commonly trigger heartburn include:
- alcohol, particularly red wine.
- black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods.
- citrus fruits and products, such as lemons, oranges and orange juice.
- coffee and caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda.
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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.
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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Will Heartburn Go Away On Its Own
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.
When To See A Doctor
If heartburn becomes chronic, it can lead to respiratory problems, inflammation, and narrowing of the esophagus.
If you have symptoms that include the following, you should contact your doctor.
- The heartburn wont go away.
- You have serious wheezing.
- The symptoms of heartburn are more frequent and severe.
- You have consistent hoarseness.
- There is unexpected weight loss.
- You have been taking over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks, and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- Vomiting occurs because of heartburn.
- Prescription medicine doesnt relieve heartburn.
It is important to keep in contact with your doctor about your symptoms and progress. They can help you with any questions and concerns related to your specific condition.
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Heartburn Or Heart Attack
A heart attack is when the arteries connected to the heart become blocked. Heartburn, on the other hand, occurs when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus.
Some symptoms of heartburn and a heart attack could be similar, such as chest pain. As a result, some people who are having a heart attack do not take action as they think they have heartburn.
If a person experiences heartburn pain alongside shortness of breath or sweating, this could be a heart-related issue.
Other symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- discomfort in the chest, such as squeezing, fullness, pressure, or pain
- pain or discomfort in one or both arms, stomach, neck, jaw, or back
If a person has some or all of these symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention. In the words of the American Heart Association , If in doubt, check it out.
Knowing how to distinguish a heart attack from heartburn can save lives.