Ways To Help Your Heartburn
Fortunately, there are things acid reflux patients can do to help prevent and minimize breakthrough symptoms.
Take your medication as prescribed. If you dont know how and when to take it, call your doctor for specific instructions.
Dont hit the sack on a full belly. Lying down within three to four hours of consuming a large meal, particularly a late-evening feast, could spell trouble. “My big push is to keep the patients away from late eating, large meals and recumbency,” Dr. Johnson says. Such a triple threat may pose too large of an insult on the body, one that even PPIsthe gold standard in GERD treatmentcant handle. For nighttime symptoms , Dr. Johnson suggests elevating the head of the bed with some blocks or using a bed wedge to elevate the upper torso.
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:
If I Have Heartburn Should I See My Health Care Professional
That depends. If a person has heartburn more than three times a week for at least two weeks, he or she should see a health care professional. On the other hand, if a person only has occasional bouts of heartburn, he or she may find that taking nonprescription antacids and making some simple changes in lifestyle can resolve the heartburn. If these measures do not help, then a visit to a health care professional is warranted.
If a person has any of these symptoms, with or without heartburn, call a doctor or go to a hospital emergency department right away:
- Throwing up blood or passing blood in bowel movements
- Severe pain, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Difficulty swallowing
With proper understanding of the condition and treatment, relief can be attained.
When I have chest pain, how can I tell whether it is my heart or just heartburn?
Sometimes a person can’t tell the difference. Just like chest pain from the heart, heartburn sometimes spreads from the chest to the jaw, shoulders, arms, or back. If a person has chest pain for any reason, seek medical care immediately.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
You May Like: What To Avoid With Heartburn
How To Deal With Anxiety And Heartburn
- Heartburn, and GERD , have several links with anxiety.
- Some people already have GERD that gets worse when they have anxiety.
- Symptoms of GERD can also trigger further anxiety, especially in those with panic attacks.
- There are at least 4 links between anxiety and heartburn.
- Treating heartburn independently can be effective, although anxiety treatment should still be prioritized.
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.
Also Check: Foods To Help Heartburn While Pregnant
Keep The Lines Of Communication Open
Brown says it’s important to talk to your primary care doctor if you’ve been experiencing recurring acid reflux or are treating yourself for heartburn with over-the-counter medications or a prescription from another doctor. You’ll also want to visit your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Trouble swallowing
- Blood in your stool or vomit, which indicates bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
“These are important symptoms to watch out for, because you can have Barrett’s esophagus without experiencing heartburn,” says Brown.
Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making 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 2 kg 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 non-prescription 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 non-prescription 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 non-prescription medicines you use.
Recommended Reading: What To Do For Heartburn At Night
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:
Response To Proton Pump Inhibitors
Response to PPIs remains one of the most specific predictors of GERD and is useful in the primary care setting. The PPI test consists of measuring the symptomatic response to a 12-week course of a high-dose PPI in patients with GERD symptoms. The rationale for a high-dose PPI is the need to suppress gastric acid secretion and heal erosive oesophagitis.
There is a lack of consensus on the definition of a PPI non-responder. The dose of PPIs and duration of treatment required to fulfil the criteria is not well defined, varying from single to double dose, and ranging from 812 weeks, respectively. Sifrim and Zerbib defined refractory GERD as heartburn and/or regurgitation symptoms occurring at least three times per week despite a stable double dose of PPI, during a treatment period of at least 12 weeks. In a prospective study of 544 patients with typical GERD symptoms, a 75% symptom response to a double dose of PPIs of one weeks duration showed a sensitivity of 96.5% and specificity of 34.6% for a diagnosis of GERD.
You May Like: What Do You Eat When You Have Heartburn
What Do I Do If I Think I Have Gerd
With GERD when reflux and heartburn happen more than once in a while the tissue lining your esophagus is getting battered regularly with stomach acid. Eventually the tissue becomes damaged. If you have this chronic acid reflux and heartburn you can see its affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.
When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isnt life-threatening in itself, its chronic inflammation of the esophagus can lead to something more serious. You may need stronger prescription medications or even surgery to ease your symptoms.
Medicines That Can Help
We’ve come a long way in the treatment of indigestion, heartburn and peptic ulcers, and it’s all down to advances in medicines.
When I was a medical student, it was fairly common for people to need surgery to control their symptoms – these days tablets like PPIs keep acid under control much better.
Sometimes a germ calledHelicobacter pylori can make indigestion worse. Your doctor may perform a breath, stool or blood test for this and if necessary, give you a one-week course of treatment with three different tablets to get rid of it. This doesn’t always work and it involves taking several tablets a day and often having to avoid even a sip of alcohol for a week, but it can greatly reduce the chance of symptoms returning.
Don’t Miss: Simple Home Remedies For Heartburn
Avoid These Things If You Have Gerd
Treating GERD Includes several lifestyle changes:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Limiting intake of acid-stimulating foods and beverages
- Not laying down for about two hours after you eat
- Elevating the head a few inches while you sleep
- Maintaining a reasonable weight
- Not wearing belts or clothes that are tight-fitting around the waist
- Taking any healthcare provider-prescribed medications for acid reflux symptoms.
GERD Doctor Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.
How Common Is Gerd
GERD is very common. The condition and its symptoms touch a huge number of people: 20% of the U.S. population.
Anyone of any age can develop GERD, but some may be more at risk for it. For example, the chances youll have some form of GERD increase after age 40.
Youre also more likely to have it if youre:
- Overweight or obese.
- Smoking or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Taking certain medications that may cause acid reflux.
Read Also: How To Prevent Heartburn After Eating
What Medications Do I Take To Manage The Symptoms Of Gerd
Many over-the-counter and prescription medications relieve GERD. Most of OTC drugs come in prescription strength too. Your provider will give you a prescription for these stronger drugs if youre not getting relief from the OTC formulas.
The most common GERD medications:
- Antacids include Tums®, Rolaids®, Mylanta®, Riopan® and Maalox®.
- H-2 receptor blockers include Tagamet®, Pepcid AC®, Axid AR® and Zantac®.
- Proton pump inhibitors include Prevacid®, Prilosec®, Zegerid®, Nexium®, Protonix®, AcipHex® and Dexilant®.
- Baclofen is a prescription drug used to reduce the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter which allows acid backwash.
Acid Reflux And Coughing
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Heres our process.
WITHDRAWAL OF RANITIDINE
Food and Drug Administration requested that all forms of prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine be removed from the U.S. market. This recommendation was made because unacceptable levels of NDMA, a probable carcinogen , were found in some ranitidine products. If youre prescribed ranitidine, talk with your doctor about safe alternative options before stopping the drug. If youre taking OTC ranitidine, stop taking the drug and talk with your healthcare provider about alternative options. Instead of taking unused ranitidine products to a drug take-back site, dispose of them according to the products instructions or by following the FDAs
Read Also: Get Rid Of Heartburn Fast Home Remedy
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is when someone has reflux more than twice a week. It’s a more serious condition than GER. Doctors usually treat it with medicine.
GERD can be a problem if it’s not treated because, over time, the reflux of stomach acid damages the tissue lining the esophagus, causing inflammation and pain. In adults, long-lasting, untreated GERD can lead to permanent damage of the esophagus.
Asthma Associated With Gerd
Nearly half of the patients with asthma have been seen to be having some element of acid reflux from their stomach. Its a common observation that asthma worsens after large meals, when we expect more acid reflux due to increased chances of back flow.
How acid coming from the stomach leads to asthma symptoms can be explained in more than one ways. Firstly, the acid irritates a nerve lying close to the lower esophageal sphincter. This nerve supplies the muscles controlling breathing. On being irritated, it tightens the muscles, narrowing the breathing spaces.
So, the patient starts wheezing.
Secondly, the acid may directly irritate the inner linings of the breathing tubes. Inflammation occurs there. The tubes get swelled from inside and produce copious mucoid secretions. This narrows their lumen, giving wheezing.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Chronic Heartburn
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.”
Control Your Acid Reflux
If you have frequent acid reflux, that means you have acid reflux disease . The vast majority of patients with acid reflux disease respond well to daily acid suppressing medications, such as proton pump inhibitors.
It’s important to note, however, that while these medications effectively manage symptoms, they are not a cure. The heartburn pain will go away, but the backsplash of damaging fluid still occurs.
That’s because proton pump inhibitors can’t fix the underlying mechanical problem the dysfunction of the valve between the esophagus and stomach. Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors can also cause significant side effects, and you must consider the lifetime cost of taking these medications.
For these reasons, surgery may be necessary to correct the valve mechanism, with the goal of eliminating the need for reflux medication. Advances in technology have improved doctors ability to tailor procedures to each individual patient, with greatly improved outcomes.
These techniques are performed through small or even no incisions, and serve to restore the valve mechanism between the esophagus and stomach to prevent acid reflux, explains Justin Karush, DO, a thoracic surgeon at Rush. Common procedures for GERD include laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, transoral incisionless fundoplication and magnetic sphincter augmentation .
Also Check: Why Am I Having Heartburn All Day
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 .
Things To Stop Doing If You Have Gerd
When you suffer from chronic heartburn that can be associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease , this condition can affect your entire life. It may be necessary to stop eating some of your favorite foods. The heartburn may interfere with your sleep. It may even interfere with your availability to work well.
Don’t Miss: Foods To Eat To Avoid Heartburn
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.