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:
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.
Small Bowel Water Content
A group of researchers found that, compared to healthy control subjects, IBS-D patients have lower amounts of water in the small intestine and it passes through quicker to the large intestine, which may contribute to postprandial diarrhea.
This research returns back to FODMAPs theory for IBS, as foods with high osmotic value are particularly troublesome for people with IBS. If true, the development of medications that would slow transit time and thus better regulate the flow of liquid into the large intestine may be helpful.
Clearly, research into the factors behind postprandial diarrhea in IBS is quite limited, and therefore no definitive conclusions can be drawn. In addition, despite the variety of theories explaining the problem, data regarding treatments for this condition don’t exist, so it’s unclear which treatments will help patients, and which do not.
Hopefully, further research will shed more light on the subject and offer some effective treatment options. In the meantime, if you tend to experience urgent diarrhea episodes after eating, discuss the subject with your doctor to see if any particular treatments would be a safe option for you.
You May Like: How To Cure Constant Heartburn
Weve Been Asking The Wrong Question
In an editorial published in the journal Gastroenterology, the author remarked: 00780-X/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”> 1)
Treating gastroesophageal reflux disease with profound acid inhibition will never be ideal because acid secretion is not the primary underlying defect.
I couldnt agree more. For decades the medical establishment has been directing its attention at how to reduce stomach acid secretion in people suffering from heartburn and GERD, even though its well-known that these conditions are not caused by excess stomach acid. Instead, the question researchers should have been asking is, what is causing the LES to malfunction? Since it is universally agreed upon that this is the underlying mechanism producing the symptoms of GERD, wouldnt it make sense to focus our efforts here? Thats exactly what were going to do in this article.
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.
Don’t Miss: Best Way To Fix Heartburn
Is Gerd Dangerous Or Life
GERD isnt life-threatening or dangerous in itself. But long-term GERD can lead to more serious health problems:
- Esophagitis: Esophagitis is the irritation and inflammation the stomach acid causes in the lining of the esophagus. Esophagitis can cause ulcers in your esophagus, heartburn, chest pain, bleeding and trouble swallowing.
- Barretts esophagus: Barretts esophagus is a condition that develops in some people who have long-term GERD. The damage acid reflux can cause over years can change the cells in the lining of the esophagus. Barretts esophagus is a risk factor for cancer of the esophagus.
- Esophageal cancer: Cancer that begins in the esophagus is divided into two major types. Adenocarcinoma usually develops in the lower part of the esophagus. This type can develop from Barretts esophagus. Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the cells that line the esophagus. This cancer usually affects the upper and middle part of the esophagus.
- Strictures: Sometimes the damaged lining of the esophagus becomes scarred, causing narrowing of the esophagus. These strictures can interfere with eating and drinking by preventing food and liquid from reaching 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:
Don’t Miss: What To Take For Heartburn After Gastric Sleeve
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.
Everything I Eat Gives Me Gas Why
When you get gas from everything you eat, there are a number of conditions or foods that can cause this to happen. The best way to find out is to eliminate any foods that may cause gas, first. If this doesnt solve the issue, you may need to see your doctor to be evaluated for any conditions that may be causing the problem. Some causes of gas after eating include:
1. Fluid in the Abdomen
If you have a condition that causes fluid buildup, you may experience excess gas in the abdomen. These include cirrhosis of the liver, congestive heart failure, or even your monthly period that causes bloating.
2. Intestinal Obstruction
A hernia or scar tissue in the abdomen may cause excessive gas. An intestinal obstruction keeps waste products from leaving the body, which continues to break down in the body. This will cause too much air in the intestines no matter what you eat.
3. Digestive Diseases
“Everything I eat gives me gas, why?” You ask. Certain digestive diseases will slow down digestion and create excessive gas in the abdomen. These include gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, Crohns disease, cystic fibrosis, and abdominal cancers.
4. Digestive Bacteria
Bacteria aid our digestive system and help to break down the foods we eat. Some bacteria can have the ability to produce increased gas from digestion. Everyone handles bacterial digestive actions differently. While one person may not experience any gas, another may be more sensitive to the waste products of the bacteria.
Recommended Reading: Best Thing To Eat When You Have Heartburn
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 dont seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually cant 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 dont, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids dont 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?
Dont Miss: What Heartburn Medication Is Causing Cancer
Can Gerd Cause Asthma
We dont know the exact relationship between GERD and asthma. More than 75% of people with asthma have GERD. They are twice as likely to have GERD as people without asthma. GERD may make asthma symptoms worse, and asthma drugs may make GERD worse. But treating GERD often helps to relieve asthma symptoms.
The symptoms of GERD can injure the lining of the throat, airways and lungs, making breathing difficult and causing a persistent cough, which may suggest a link. Doctors mostly look at GERD as a cause of asthma if:
- Asthma begins in adulthood.
- Asthma symptoms get worse after a meal, exercise, at night and after lying down.
- Asthma doesnt get better with standard asthma treatments.
If you have asthma and GERD, your healthcare provider can help you find the best ways to handles both conditions the right medications and treatments that wont aggravate symptoms of either disease.
Also Check: What Gets Rid Of Heartburn Fast
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.
What Is Acid Reflux
When you swallow food, it passes from your throat, through your esophagus, and then through an opening in your stomach.
This opening usually closes once the food passes through. If it doesnt, acid from your stomach may enter through the opening and travel the wrong wayback into your esophagus and to your throat. This is called acid reflux. The opening can occur sporadically after a meal leading to multiple reflux events.
Avoid Smoking And Smoke Exposure
Smoking leads to more heartburn in several ways:
- Smoking reduces saliva production, giving you less of this naturally alkaline fluid to help neutralize stomach acid.
- Smoking can weaken and relax the LES.
- Smokers are prone to coughing, which increases abdominal pressure and can lead to heartburn.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is also linked to heartburn, so you should avoid places where people smoke.
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.
Read Also: What Can I Eat If I Have Heartburn
Remedies For Heartburn After Meals
- Antacids are among the more commonly used medication to remedy heartburn after eating. If persistent, medical treatment needs to be sought. Antacids should not be used indefinitely as prolonged use of certain types may lead to complications.
- Increase water intake after a meal. It can help wash down any acid that has entered the esophagus and also help with hastening stomach emptying to some degree.
- Take a walk after a meal but do not run or exercise. The movement may help with stomach emptying and being upright utilizes gravity to prevent reflux.
- Milk and other dairy products may be helpful in neutralizing the stomach acid and soothing the esophagus. However, this is for short term relief and large amounts of dairy should not be used to treat acid reflux.
Pharmacy First Scotland: Indigestion Treatment From Your Pharmacy
Most people will not need to seek medical advice for their indigestion. However, your pharmacist may advise you see your GP if you have recurring indigestion and any of the following apply:
- you are 55 years old or over
- you have lost a lot of weight without meaning to
- you have increasing difficulty swallowing
- you have persistent vomiting
- you have a lump in your stomach
- you have blood in your vomit or blood in your stools
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of the body is examined using an endoscope .
Severe indigestion can cause long-term problems with parts of your digestive tract, such as scarring of the oesophagus or the passage from your stomach. Read more about the possible complications of severe indigestion.
Recommended Reading: Why Is Heartburn So Painful
How A Doctor Can Help
If you have heartburn two or more times a week and changes to your diet or eating pattern haven’t helped, consult a doctor. A gastroenterologist can perform tests to measure the acidity in your stomach and see if frequent acid reflux has damaged your esophagus.
GERD is often treatable through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. But persistent symptoms of reflux need thorough evaluation by a gastroenterologist who can find the underlying cause and discuss available treatment options.
The Johns Hopkins Heartburn Center
GERD is an ongoing condition that often requires more attention than over-the-counter treatments can offer. The Heartburn Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine provides personalized care to help patients find relief.
What To Do If Everything I Eat Gives Me Gas
If you have issues with gas after eating, here are a few tips to help keep things calmer:
1. Increase Fluid Intake
Prior to meals, drink extra fluids. Try not to drink during your meal, because this dilutes the acids in your stomach and keeps food from breaking down properly. If you need to drink during a meal, take small sips only.
2. Avoid Swallowing Air
If you eat too fast, you will take in too much air and this will cause excess gas. Eat slowly and take your time. This will prevent too much air in your digestive system.
Try to stay away from things that cause you to swallow air prior to meals. Dont smoke, drink from straws, or chew gum at least 30 minutes before eating. Some of the gas you experience may actually begin to build up before you eat.
3. Use Digestive Enzymes
Take a digestive enzyme that helps break down gas bubbles in your stomach. You can use the ones designed for eating beans, or a natural supplement containing papaya. Take them at least 30 minutes prior to eating. You may need at least one tablet per one-cup of food that you plan on eating.
4. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has been known to help relieve gas. Medical grade activated charcoal is safe for humans to take and completely different than the type you use for cooking. Just use caution, activated charcoal can cause constipation in some people.
5. Stay Away from Sorbitol
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Have So Much Heartburn
How Gerd Pillows Work
GERD symptoms tend to be worse after eating a meal and then lying down. After eating bigger meals, and especially foods higher in fat content, the symptoms might be worse. Other food triggers may include fried foods, citrus, and chocolate. Reflux can also result from having coffee, carbonated beverages, or drinking alcohol before lying down.
The reason why symptoms may be worse while lying flat is that the position puts the stomach and the esophagus on the same level. This can result in the acid from the stomach more easily flowing into the esophagus. When standing or sitting up, gravity can help keep the stomach acid where it belongs and out of the esophagus.
What may help is using a pillow that raises the upper body while lying down or sleeping. When the torso is elevated at an angle, gravity can help keep the stomach acid in the stomach. Some people find that using a wedge pillow is easy to sleep on and helps with GERD symptoms.
In one small study, using a wedge pillow that raised the body on a 30-degree incline while sleeping on ones left side reduced the amount of acid in the esophagus by 87%. Symptoms improved for 97% of the patients in the study. The authors concluded that its worth using a wedge pillow, especially because its a non-invasive way of treating GERD.
Low Stomach Acid Causes Bacterial Overgrowth
As I explain in the next article, one of the chief roles of stomach acid is to inhibit bacterial overgrowth. At a pH of 3 or less , most bacteria cant survive for more than 15 minutes. But when stomach acid is insufficient and the pH of the stomach rises above 5, bacteria begin to thrive. The gastrin knockout mouse, which is incapable of producing stomach acid, suffers from bacterial overgrowthas well as inflammation, damage and precancerous polyps in its intestines. It is also well documented that acid-suppressing drugs promote bacterial overgrowth. Long-term use of Prilosec, one of the most potent acid suppressing drugs, reduces the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to near zero. In one trial, 30 people with GERD were treated with a high dose of Prilosec for at least 3 months. Eleven of the 30 Prilosec-treated people had developed significant bacterial overgrowth, compared with only one of the 10 people in the control group.
Read Also: What Are Good Foods For Heartburn