What To Do If You Have Chest Pain
If youre having chest pain that you think could be a heart attack, dont drive yourself to the emergency room. Always call 911 or local emergency services so you can get medical attention as quickly as possible.
The more time the heart goes without proper blood flow, the more damage the heart muscle may undergo. This is why its not a good idea to wait or hesitate if you think you may be experiencing a heart attack.
Chocolate Can Cause Everyday Heartburn
Your sweet tooth aint gonna like this, but chocolate may also trigger heartburn attacks.
Again, the problem lies in LES relaxation and subsequent acid reflux.
Eating chocolate boosts your serotonin level, making you feel happy and relaxed.
Unfortunately, the same goes for your LES, which has different types of
And you know the drill: relaxed LES => acid reflux => heartburn
Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate may contribute to LES relaxation, too.
What Does Heartburn Feel Like
Heartburn feels like an uncomfortable or burning pain in the middle of your chest. You may also experience:
- a burning sensation in your throat
- pressure or pain behind your breastbone
- difficulty swallowing
- worsening pain after lying down or bending over
- an acidic, sour, or bitter taste in your mouth
- coughing or hoarseness
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Heres How To Control Your Symptoms
When your symptoms flare up, there are a few things you can try:
- Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn, especially in the afternoon or evening
- Elevate the head of your bed to enlist gravity to help fight regurgitation
- Take over-the-counter antacids like Tums or Rolaids, or acid suppressors such as Prilosec, Nexium, or Pepcid
Why Do I Get Heartburn When I Dont Eat
Sometimes its assumed that you get heartburn is because you have too much acid in your stomach but thats not always the case.
There are quite a few ways heartburn can happen in the first place. One of the more common ones is when the lower esophageal sphincter or LES for short opens when it shouldnt. If you didnt know the LES is the valve directly above the stomach designed to open when food and liquid is coming down and stay closed otherwise.
If the LES is open this can sometimes lead to heartburn. The important thing to note here is often when people get heartburn its when they have eaten or drank something that made it worse but sometimes this effect can linger on and continue to give you symptoms even when you havent eaten.
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Heartburn Is Common But It Can Also Be Quite Serious
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest when food in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Unfortunately, heartburn is extremely common, with an estimated 60 million Americans experiencing heartburn at least once a month. Nearly 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day.
When you feel heartburn, it means you have gastroesophageal reflux. The reflux is acidic stomach juice thats flowing back up into your esophagus. It irritates the delicate lining of your esophagus and can be painful. The acid reflux backs up into your neck and throat. Frequent acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease .
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How Are Gerd And Sleep Related
GERD is often cited as a cause of sleeping problems, including in the National Sleep Foundations 2001 Sleep in America Poll. In a more recent survey of people with frequent heartburn, nearly 60% said it affected their sleep, and more than 30% said it hurt their daytime functioning.
Flare ups of GERD symptoms after lying down can make it hard to fall asleep and can cause nighttime interruptions from heartburn, chest pain, and coughing. Studies in sleep clinics of people with GERD have found that these symptoms are correlated with lower sleep quality.
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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.
Why Does It Happen In Pregnancy
Many women who have heartburn during pregnancy have never had problems before. Unfortunately, if you had heartburn before becoming pregnant, youre more likely to have symptoms while you are pregnant. Although the exact reasons arent clear, most experts believe that pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, play a role. Hormones cause relaxation of the esophageal sphincter. This is a tight circular band of muscle at the top of the stomach. This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer. The pregnancy itselfthe upward pressure of the growing uterusalso may play a role.
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Why Do I Get Heartburn When I Havent Eaten
If you visit a doctor to talk about your heartburn, one of the first things they will ask is your diet.
As most people know and what we constantly mention, heartburn is often caused by what you eat and what you drink, so your doctor wants to be sure you are eating a diet that wont provoke any additional symptoms before moving into treatment options.
If youre getting heartburn without eating anything, here are some of the reasons:
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Other Causes Of Morning Heartburn
Although GERD is a common reason for heartburn in the morning, there are other reasons that someone can experience heartburn during this time. Some factors include your activities the night before and lifestyle habits. Other factors include:
- Having a high stress level
- Hiatal hernia
- Wearing tight clothes and belts
- Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus
- Alcoholic beverages
Your healthcare provider can help you create a list of foods to remove and incorporate into your diet that will help treat your GERD symptoms. It is important to work with your healthcare provider, continuing to take your medicineif prescribedand following a plan that will help you have the best outcome regarding your condition.
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Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topicMaking the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
- What are your main symptoms? Report any symptoms, such as abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits, or vomiting.
- How long have you had heartburn?
- Have you had this problem before? If so, do you know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated? How did you respond to that treatment?
- Have you had any signs of bleeding from your digestive system?
- Have you had any difficulty swallowing when you eat or drink?
- How much tobacco do you use? How much alcohol do you drink? How much caffeine do you drink?
- Has your weight increased or decreased more than 5 lb recently?
- Have there been any changes in your diet? Are you eating certain foods more often?
- Have there been changes in your daily schedule, such as when you eat and when you go to bed?
- Are you taking any nonprescription or prescription medicines? Bring a list of all the medicines you are taking to your appointment.
- What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they help? Be sure to include lifestyle changes you have made.
- What nonprescription medicines have you taken or used to treat your heartburn? Did they help?
- Do you have any health risks?
Remember to take your heartburn symptom record to your doctor visit. Be sure to note any lifestyle changes you have made or nonprescription medicines you use.
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.
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.
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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.
Prevention Of Gerd After Eating
- Avoid foods that trigger or worsen heartburn. While the more common foods associated with GERD have been mentioned above, some people may react to specific foods even though there is no scientific explanation for why these foods would lead to GERD.
- Do not drink alcohol before, during or immediately after meals. Wait a short period of time after eating and limit the intake of alcohol.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently instead of large meals. Overeating is often associated with having skipped meals as well as intoxication. By eating many smaller meals, overeating can be avoided.
- Do not eat too fast as it may increase air swallowing, hamper proper chewing and even lead to overeating. Meals should be consumed calmly during suitable times.
- Never lie down or sleep after a meal as it can trigger or worsen heartburn. Try not to eat for at least 2 hours before bedtime and avoid late night snacking.
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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.
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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.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Acid Reflux And Oesophagitis
- Heartburn: this is the main symptom. This is a burning feeling which rises from the upper tummy or lower chest up towards the neck.
- Other common symptoms: these include pain in the upper abdomen and chest, feeling sick, an acid taste in the mouth, bloating, belching, indigestion and a burning pain when you swallow hot drinks. Like heartburn, these symptoms tend to come and go and tend to be worse after a meal.
- Some uncommon symptoms: these may occur and if they do, can make the diagnosis difficult, as these symptoms can mimic other conditions. For example:
- A persistent cough, particularly at night, sometimes occurs. This is due to the refluxed acid irritating the windpipe . Asthma symptoms of cough and wheeze can sometimes be due to acid leaking up .
- Other mouth and throat symptoms sometimes occur, such as gum problems, bad breath, sore throat, hoarseness and a feeling of a lump in the throat.
- Severe chest pain develops in some cases .
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.
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Can I Get My Moles Checked
Its a scary fact, but one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Thats why getting checked on a regular basis is important at any age. Whether youve noticed any weird moles or not, ask your doctor about getting a full-body skin exam. While its something commonly done during dermatology appointments, your primary care doctor can make it part of your regular routine as well to ensure any abnormal spots are checked outespecially those in areas you might not be able to do a close examination of yourself, like on your back.
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Watch What You Eat Drink And Do
Making some changes to your lifestyle can go a long way toward easing the pain of heartburn.
Say goodbye to cigarettes. Smoking causes your body to make less saliva, a liquid that helps stamp out stomach acid. That can lead to burning in your esophagus. Tobacco may also cause your stomach to make more acid and relax the muscles at the lower end of your esophagus that can shut down the opening between the stomach and the esophagus. Chewing gum and sucking on lozenges can help you make more saliva.
Donât lie down after you eat. If you need an afternoon siesta, snooze upright in a chair. Eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed, and donât make the last meal of the day your biggest one.
Raise the head of your bed. If the top of your bed is higher than the bottom, itâs harder for the acid to travel up. You can do this with a block of wood under the bed or a foam wedge under the mattress.
Be careful what medications you use. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other medications, such as some sedatives and blood pressure drugs, can trigger heartburn. Ask your doctor if any of your medications might be causing your symptoms. There may be something else you can take.
Wear loose clothing. Tight clothing, including belts, can cause stomach contents to push upward.
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