Health Conditions That Can Cause Heartburn
When the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagusthe lower esophageal sphincter, or LESisnt closed tightly, it can lead to heartburn. The LES has to relax to allow the meal to go down, says Kenneth R. DeVault, MD, professor of gastroenterology and chair of the department of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in Jacksonville, Fla. But when those relaxations become too many or occur at the wrong time, that allows acid to reflux.These 5 conditions can affect the LES, boosting your heartburn risk.
What Are The Causes Of Heartburn Every Day
Occasional heartburn happens to many people, but if it becomes an everyday occurrence it may indicate an underlying health disorder or unhealthy dietary habits. Heartburn results from stomach acid backup that gets into the esophagus and throat, causing a burning sensation in the chest or bitter taste in the back of the throat. People who have chronic heartburn should consult a doctor to find out what may be causing it.
Conditions And Habits That Put Pressure On The Les
In certain situations, your stomach and the LES are under pressure and, as a result, acid can sneak back into the esophagus, causing the unpleasant heartburn symptoms. The most common cases include:
- Pregnancy: As the baby grows, it puts strong pressure on the stomach and the LES often fails to keep the acid inside. Thats why many pregnant women experience heartburn.
- Large, late-night meals: Large portions add more pressure to your stomach. If you lie down right after a meal, gravity will work against you and increase the pressure even more. And you know the consequences Thats why large, late-night, junk food meals make for the worst heartburn combo. Same goes for your afternoon nap so try to wait 1-2 hours after lunch.
- Hiatal hernia: This means the stomach is dislocated, often putting pressure on the LES and causing heartburn symptoms.
- Obesity: Increased weight and belly fat can also expose your stomach and LES to additional pressure, bolstering the acid reflux. Among other amazing benefits, controlling the body weight may put an end to your heartburn problems .
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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.
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.
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What Does Heartburn Feel Like
Heartburn typically feels like a burning in the center of your chest, behind your breastbone. When you have heartburn, you may also feel symptoms like:
- A burning feeling in your chest that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
- Pain in your chest when you bend over or lay down.
- A burning feeling in your throat.
- A hot, sour, acidic or salty taste in the back of your throat.
- Difficulty swallowing.
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.
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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?
What Causes Acid Reflux Disease
Several factors may increase your risk for acid reflux disease.
Stomach abnormalities. One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia, which can occur in people of any age. A hiatal hernia happens when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm. This is the muscle wall separating your stomach from your chest. When it works correctly, the diaphragm normally helps keep acid from rising into your esophagus. But if you have a hiatal hernia, it is easier for acid to move up into your esophagus.
Pregnancy. Many women experience acid reflux for the first time during pregnancy. This is caused by increasing levels of hormones combined with pressure from the growing fetus. Usually worst during the third trimester, the symptoms almost always go away after delivery.
Smoking.Smoking may contribute to acid reflux disease by doing any of the following:
- Damaging mucus membranes
- Impairing muscle reflexes in the throat
- Increasing acid secretion
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Diagnosing H Pylori Infection
If your GP thinks that your symptoms may be due to an infection with H pylori bacteria, you may need to have a test for it, such as:
- a stool antigen test a pea-sized stool sample will be tested for H pylori bacteria
- a breath test
- a blood test a blood sample will be tested for antibodies to H pylori bacteria
Antibiotics and PPIs can affect the results of a urea breath test or a stool antigen test. Therefore, these tests may need to be delayed until two weeks after you last used a PPI, and four weeks after you last used an antibiotic.
Foods That Are Making Your Gerd Worse
by The Surgical Clinic |
Everyone needs to eat, but for people who have gastroesophageal reflux disease , eating the wrong thing can have painful consequences. If youre just starting to experience GERD symptoms and youre not sure whats causing your symptoms, heres a list of eight foods that are making your GERD symptoms worse.
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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.
Barretts Esophagus Risk Factors
Based on these risk factors and your medical/family history, your doctor may recommend screening for Barrettâs esophagus.
- Chronic Heartburn/Acid Reflux/GERD: Those who have chronic symptoms are more likely to develop Barrettâs esophagus.
- Age: Barrettâs esophagus is more common in middle-aged and older adults. 55 is the average age of diagnosis.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop Barrettâs esophagus
- Ethnic Background: White and Hispanic populations are at higher risk than other populations. Black and Asian populations have a lower risk of developing Barrettâs esophagus.
- Smoking: Current and past smokers are more likely to develop Barrettâs esophagus.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
Because indigestion can be a sign of a more serious health problem, let your doctor know if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting or blood in your vomit. It may look like coffee grounds.
- Weight loss you canât explain
- Loss of appetite
- Stools that are bloody, black, or tarry
- Severe pain in your upper-right belly
- Pain in the upper- or lower-right parts of your belly
- Feeling uncomfortable even if you havenât eaten
Reasons Why Your Heartburn Medicine Isnt Working
Perhaps youve 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.
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Should I Be Worried If I Get Heartburn Everyday
Generally speaking, heartburn is not serious. An occasional bout of heartburn usually means that the foods the person ate produced too much acid in the stomach. If a persons suffers from heartburn often, or every day, it can be a symptom of a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
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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Treatment Options For Heartburn
FDA identifies three classes of OTC medications for treating occasional heartburn. These include:
- Antacids. These medications help neutralize stomach acid. They can provide quick relief of heartburn symptoms. Common antacids are:
Although these medications can be helpful, they may have side effects, according to the NIDDK . Antacids can cause constipation or diarrhea. PPIs may cause headache, diarrhea, or upset stomach. Talk with your doctor about any medications youre already taking to see if youre at risk for any drug interactions.
If OTC medications do not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may be able to prescribe stronger versions of these medications.
Severity Of Constant Heartburn
As per research, Individuals who endure frequent episodes of acid heartburn are 78% more prone to get throat cancer. Specialists, who published their discoveries in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, have revealed that using stomach antacids has defensive results. People who have experienced the ill effects of indigestion yet take acid neutralizers have a 41% chances to bring down the danger of throat cancer than those who dont take the medicines.
Hence, people who have constantly suffered heartburn ought to counsel a doctor to discover what might be causing it.
|Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: April 4, 2018|
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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.
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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.
How To Sleep With Acid Reflux
Nights are a different story, even with the best bedtime rituals. And, depending on how you are sleeping, your esophagus can actually be below your stomach allowing acid to freely flow out and then just sit in your esophagus, lungs, throat, and sinuses. This is not good for your body. Over time acid pooling in your esophagus can cause severe damage, such as peptic ulcers, strictures, and in more extreme cases Barretts Esophagus. In fact, if you have acid reflux at night, there is an 11-fold increased risk of developing esophageal cancer than those without nighttime acid reflux2.
You dont have to sleep sitting up to take advantage of gravity and anatomy at night. You arent a giraffe after all. How you sleep can directly affect how often you feel symptoms, how bad those symptoms are, and how long the acid sits in your esophagus. The good news is that you can drastically change your nights by changing the way you sleep.
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