Heartburn all day every day: Facts, Treatment, Causes, Symptoms & Prevention
7 Dangers of Frequent Heartburn
Heartburn occurs when stomach juices backflow up into the esophagus—the food pipe to your stomach. Most people experience heartburn some time in their life; others experience regularly. If you’re having frequent heartburn, talk to your doctor. Heartburn can cause serious problems and it may be a symptom of a more serious condition called gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) also known as acid reflux. Here are several reasons not to ignore your heartburn.
Certain foods, even healthy foods, can trigger heartburn. Acidic food such as citrus fruits or juices like orange or grapefruit are high in acid. If you stay away from them to avoid heartburn, you could be missing out on vitamin C and other important nutrients. Work with your doctor to make sure you don’t develop deficiencies. Other heartburn triggers to avoid include high-fat foods, coffee, beverages that contain caffeine, peppermint, onions, and chocolate.
Normally, a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) keeps gastric juices in your stomach. But when you lie flat at night, especially after you’ve eaten, these juices can seep up through the LES. This can result in heartburn that wakes you up at night. You may even wake up coughing or choking if acid gets up to your throat. Most people with daytime heartburn also get nighttime heartburn. To prevent this problem, eat a small dinner meal and stop eating at least three hours before sleep, raise the head of your bed, and sleep on your left side.
Heartburn occurs when gastric juices flow backwards into your esophagus—the long tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach. Frequent heartburn can harm the lining of the esophagus and result in a condition called esophagitis. Over time, the esophagus can develop ulcers and scarring. This type of damage can increase your risk for esophageal cancer—another reason why it is very important to let your doctor know about frequent heartburn. Medicine is available to help prevent esophagitis.
4. 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 (LPR). Besides heartburn, you might feel symptoms like a lump in your throat or a sore throat. 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.
Heartburn stems from stomach acids flowing backwards into your esophagus. With laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) the stomach acids make it up as high as your throat and may spill over and go down into your larynx—your voice box. This can cause the swelling and irritation known as laryngitis. Your vocal cords will swell up, causing a hoarse voice. Hoarseness is another symptom of LPR. Lifestyle changes can usually reverse this cause of hoarseness.
When reflux makes it all the way into your mouth, it can cause bad breath and damage tooth enamel. Bad breath is not dangerous, but, losing the enamel that protects your teeth is. The acid from your stomach can eat away at tooth enamel especially while you’re asleep. Normally, saliva in your mouth protects your teeth, but you make less saliva when you sleep. And, when you lie flat, more stomach acid can flow up into your mouth. If you have frequent heartburn, ask your dentist if there are any signs that you are losing enamel.
Several types of lung disease have been linked to acid reflux. For instance, aspiration pneumonia occurs when gastric juices get past the vocal cords and into the lungs. Chronic cough also can stem from reflux. Experts estimate that acid reflux is the cause of chronic cough as much as 40% of the time. Reflux has also been linked to asthma and to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). If you have lung symptoms like wheezing, coughing or trouble breathing, talk to your doctor. Let your doctor know if you also have symptoms of heartburn or reflux. There could be a connection.
Because frequent heartburn can be a symptom of a more serious condition, talk to your doctor about all your symptoms. Ask whether you might have GERD.
GERD (Chronic Acid Reflux): Symptoms, Treatment, & Causes
GERD or Acid Reflux
What is GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or chronic acid reflux) is a condition in which acid-containing contents in your stomach persistently leak back up into your esophagus, the tube from your throat to your stomach.
Acid reflux happens because a valve at the end of your esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter, doesn’t close properly when food arrives at your stomach. Acid backwash then flows back up through your esophagus into your throat and mouth, giving you a sour taste.
Acid reflux happens to nearly everyone at some point in life. Having acid reflux and heartburn now and then is totally normal. But, if you have acid reflux/heartburn more than twice a week over a period of several weeks, constantly take heartburn medications and antacids yet your symptoms keep returning, you may have developed GERD. Your GERD should be treated by your healthcare provider. Not just to relieve your symptoms, but because GERD can lead to more serious problems.
What are the main symptoms of GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
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.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. It’s a painful burning sensation in the middle of your chest caused by irritation to the lining of the esophagus caused by stomach acid.
This burning can come on anytime but is often worse after eating. For many people heartburn worsens when they recline or lie in bed, which makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep.
Fortunately, heartburn can usually be managed with over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn/acid indigestion drugs. Your healthcare provider can also prescribe stronger medicines to help tame your heartburn.
What do I do if I think I have GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
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 it’s affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.
When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isn’t 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.
How common is GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
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 you’ll have some form of GERD (mild or severe) increase after age 40.
You’re also more likely to have it if you’re:
- Overweight or obese.
- Smoking or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Taking certain medications that may cause acid reflux.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes acid reflux?
Acid reflux is caused by weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (valve). Normally this valve closes tightly after food enters your stomach. If it relaxes when it shouldn’t, 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 (for example, dairy, spicy or fried foods) 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 are the symptoms of GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
Different people are affected in different ways by GERD. The most common symptoms are:
Infants and children can experience similar symptoms of GERD, as well as:
- Frequent small vomiting episodes.
- Excessive crying, not wanting to eat (in babies and infants).
- Other respiratory (breathing) difficulties.
- Frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down.
- Hoarse throat.
- Feeling of choking that may wake the child up.
- Bad breath.
- Difficulty sleeping after eating, especially in infants.
How do I know I’m having heartburn and not a heart attack?
Chest pain caused by heartburn may make you afraid you’re having a heart attack. Heartburn has nothing to do with your heart, but since the discomfort is in your chest it may be hard to know the difference while it’s going on. But symptoms of a heart attack are different than heartburn.
Heartburn is that uncomfortable burning feeling or pain in your chest that can move up to your neck and throat. A heart attack can cause pain in the arms, neck and jaw, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms.
If your heartburn medication doesn’t help and your chest pain is accompanied by these symptoms, call for medical attention right away.
Can GERD (chronic acid reflux) cause asthma?
We don’t 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 doesn’t 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 won’t aggravate symptoms of either disease.
Is GERD (chronic acid reflux) dangerous or life-threatening?
GERD isn’t 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.
- Barrett’s esophagus: Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that develops in some people (about 10%) who have long-term GERD. The damage acid reflux can cause over years can change the cells in the lining of the esophagus. Barrett’s 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 Barrett’s 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.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is GERD (chronic acid reflux) diagnosed?
Usually your provider can tell if you have simple acid reflux (not chronic) by talking with you about your symptoms and medical history. You and your provider can talk about controlling your symptoms through diet and medications.
If these strategies don’t help, your provider may ask you to get tested for GERD. Tests for GERD include:
- Upper gastrointestinal GI endoscopy and biopsy: Your provider feeds an endoscope (a long tube with a light attached) through your mouth and throat to look at the lining of your upper GI tract (esophagus and stomach and duodenum). The provider also cuts out a small bit of tissue (biopsy) to examine for GERD or other problems.
- Upper GI series: X-rays of your upper GI tract show any problems related to GERD. You drink barium, a liquid that moves through your tract as the X-ray tech takes pictures.
- Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring and Bravo wireless esophageal pH monitoring: These tests both measure the pH levels in your esophagus. Your provider inserts a thin tube through your nose or mouth into your stomach. Then you are sent home with a monitor that measures and records your pH as you go about your normal eating and sleeping. You’ll wear the esophageal pH and impedance monitor for 24 hours while the Bravo system is worn for 48 hours.
- Esophageal manometry: A manometry tests the functionality of lower esophageal sphincter and esophageal muscles to move food normally from the esophagus to the stomach. Your provider inserts a small flexible tube with sensors into your nose. These sensors measure the strength of your sphincter, muscles and spasms as you swallow.
When does a child/infant need to be hospitalized for GERD?
GERD is usually treated on an outpatient basis. However your child will need to be hospitalized if he or she:
- Has poor weight gain or experiences a failure to thrive.
- Has cyanosis (a bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin due to deficient oxygenation of the blood) or choking spells.
- Experiences excessive irritability.
- Experiences excessive vomiting/dehydration.
Management and Treatment
What medications do I take to manage the symptoms of GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
Many over-the-counter (OTC) 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 you’re not getting relief from the OTC formulas.
The most common GERD medications:
- Antacids (provide quick relief by neutralizing stomach acids) include Tums®, Rolaids®, Mylanta®, Riopan® and Maalox®.
- H-2 receptor blockers (which decrease acid production) include Tagamet®, Pepcid AC®, Axid AR® and Zantac®.
- Proton pump inhibitors (stronger acid blockers that also help heal damaged esophagus tissue) 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.
Is there surgery to treat GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
GERD is usually controlled with medications and lifestyle changes (like eating habits). If these don’t work, or if you can’t take medications for an extended period, surgery may be a solution.
- Laparoscopic antireflux surgery (or Nissen fundoplication) is the standard surgical treatment. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that fixes your acid reflux by creating a new valve mechanism at the bottom of your esophagus. The surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach (the fundus) around the lower portion of the esophagus. This reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter so food won’t reflux back into the esophagus.
- LINX device implantation is another minimally invasive surgery. A LINX device is a ring of tiny magnets that are strong enough to keep the junction between the stomach and esophagus closed to refluxing acid but weak enough to allow food to pass through.
What treatments approaches will be considered if my child has GERD?
Approaches may include one or more of the following:
- Advice on avoiding triggers (certain types of food, changing formulas in infants) that may be causing GERD symptoms or making them worse.
- Over-the-counter medications.
- Prescription medications.
- Information on proper body positioning, e.g., maintaining an upright position after eating meals/feedings.
- Surgery (reserved as a last resort, or for when certain surgical correctable causes are identified).
How do I prevent symptoms of GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
Here are 10 tips to help prevent GERD symptoms:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat small, frequent meals rather than huge amounts a few times a day.
- Reduce fat by decreasing the amount of butter, oils, salad dressings, gravy, fatty meats and full-fat dairy products such as sour cream, cheese and whole milk.
- Sit upright while eating and stay upright (sitting or standing) for 45 to 60 minutes afterward.
- Avoid eating before bedtime. Wait at least three hours after eating to go to bed.
- Try not to wear clothes that are tight in the belly area. They can squeeze your stomach and push acid up into the esophagus.
- When sleeping, raise the head of the bed 6 to 8 inches, using wooden blocks under the bedposts. Extra pillows don’t work.
- Stop smoking.
- Your healthcare provider may prescribe acid-reducing medications. Be sure to take them as directed.
- Cut out possible trigger foods.
What foods should I avoid if I have GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
Adjusting your diet and eating habits play a key role in controlling the symptoms of GERD. Try to avoid the trigger foods that keep giving you heartburn.
For example, many people get heartburn from:
- Spicy foods.
- Fried foods.
- Fatty (including dairy) foods.
- Tomato sauces.
- Garlic and onions.
- Alcohol, coffee and carbonated drinks.
- Citrus fruits.
Keep a record of the trigger foods that give you trouble. Talk with your provider to get help with this. They’ll have suggestions about how to log foods and times of day you should eat.
Outlook / Prognosis
What is the outlook for GERD (chronic acid reflux)?
You can control the symptoms of GERD. If you adjust your eating and sleeping habits and take medications when needed, you should be able to get your GERD symptoms to a manageable level.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
If you experience acid reflux/heartburn more than twice a week over a period of several weeks, constantly take heartburn and antacids and your symptoms keep returning, call your healthcare provider.
What’s the Difference Between Acid Reflux and GERD? | Everyday Health
Got a burning feeling in your upper chest? If you’re thinking heartburn, you’re probably right. “Heartburn is the manifestation — the symptom — of acid reflux, or stomach contents coming back up in your esophagus,” says Matilda Hagan, MD, a gastroenterologist at The Center for Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Diseases at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
You can often pinpoint a reason for the burn (that five-alarm chili, perhaps?), but if heartburn happens often — defined as a couple of times a week — it could be a symptom of a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
While it may seem that GERD is just a fancy name for heartburn, they are more like close cousins than identical twins.
That Burning Feeling: What Is Heartburn?
After you swallow food, it makes its way down the esophagus and into the stomach, where a ring of muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), closes to keep the food in. But sometimes the LES is weak or doesn’t properly close, allowing stomach acid to backup, which irritates the lining of the esophagus. That’s acid reflux, or heartburn.
The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) estimates that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. Symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in the center of your chest that lasts from several minutes to an hour or two
- A feeling of chest pressure or pain that is worse if you bend over or lie down
- A sour, bitter, or acidic taste in the back of your throat
- A feeling that food is “stuck” in your throat or the middle of your chest
You can generally avoid occasional bouts of heartburn with some lifestyle modifications. Your doctor will likely suggest you try to treat heartburn by making the following lifestyle changes before medication comes into play.
- Avoid foods that trigger reflux for you. Spicy, acidic, and fried or fatty foods are more likely to trigger reflux. So can caffeine and alcohol.
- Stay upright after eating a big meal to allow for optimal digestion. “It’s best to not eat in the hours leading up to bedtime,” says Dr. Hagan.
- If you’re overweight or obese, losing some weight can help. (Obesity is a factor in the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter.)
- If you smoke, do your best to quit.
Related: Heartburn and Foods: Dos and Don’ts
Related: 7 Low Acid Foods to Add to Your Reflux Diet
When Acid Reflux Is Chronic: What Is GERD?
According to the ACG, GERD is acid reflux that occurs more than a couple of times per week. That said, it’s not the case that a person who has occasional heartburn will necessarily progress toward having GERD, says Louis Cohen, MD, gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. But the symptoms are the same as those of acid reflux, such as the burning feeling in your chest and the sensation that your stomach contents are in your throat. You may also have a dry cough or trouble swallowing.
Diagnosing the condition can usually be done by a primary care doctor (or gastroenterologist) by simply evaluating symptom frequency and severity.
“We may also put a probe into a patient’s esophagus for a day to measure how frequently reflux happens,” says Dr. Cohen. Knowing how often reflux occurs is another way (beyond symptoms) to confirm a diagnosis.
Treatment for GERD starts with lifestyle modifications, adds Hagan, “we’ll ask patients to try these steps before we offer medication, although we understand that it can be hard to do some things, such as quitting smoking.”
The medication most often prescribed for GERD is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), such as:
PPIs work to decrease the amount of acid your stomach produces. The ACG notes that there’s strong evidence that an eight-week course of a PPI eases symptoms and can heal the lining of the esophagus that’s been damaged by stomach acid. Other drugs called h3 blockers, such as Zantac (ranitidine) or Pepcid (famotidine) may also be tried and are effective, says Hagan. h3 blockers also lower stomach acid production, and are available over the counter.
“If we determine that GERD symptoms are caused by hypersensitivity in the esophagus or excessive relaxation of the lower esophagus, we might prescribe tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin uptake inhibitors,” adds Cohen.
Delaying Treatment May Lead to Complications
If GERD goes untreated, it can lead to more serious complications. One such issue is esophagitis, which is inflammation in the esophagus. Hagan says if that’s not treated, you may develop strictures, which is a narrowing of the esophagus that can lead to esophageal pain and affect proper swallowing.
Another complication of GERD is a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus (BE). “Over time, the stomach acid causes cells in the lining of the esophagus to look more like the stomach lining,” says Hagan. These changes, which happen on a cellular level, may in rare cases lead to a form of esophageal cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma. BE is more common in:
- Caucasian males
- People older than age 50
- People who are overweight
This form of cancer appears to be on the rise, according to research published in March 2013 in the journal Cancer.
Meanwhile more recent research, published in May 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that the “chemical burn” of stomach acid may not be the sole cause of changes to the esophageal lining. Instead, the study suggests that damage may be caused by an inflammatory response to proteins called cyotokines that are secreted in the intestinal lining of people with GERD.
If you have BE, says Hagan, your doctor may recommend surveillance endoscopy, which means he or she will perform an endoscopy periodically to see how well your esophagus is healing, secondary to drug therapy.
The bottom line: If you’re experiencing heartburn at an increased frequency, talk to your doctor about testing to uncover the underlying issue. If you learn to treat GERD with lifestyle changes or medication, you can avoid more serious complications.
When Should You Be Worried About Heartburn?
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 that’s 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 (GERD).
Causes of heartburn
If you have heartburn, you may produce too much acid in your stomach. Your digestive system might have structural issues that let acid back into your esophagus. There are also foods and lifestyle choices that can exacerbate your risks and symptoms, including:
- Spicy, greasy and fried foods
- Acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes)
- Fatty foods (chocolate, dairy, meats)
- Medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen)
- Acidic beverages (coffee, carbonated drinks, juices)
Acidic juices can damage your esophageal lining but not your stomach. The juices in your stomach help your body digest foods. The juices contain hydrochloric acid. Your body naturally protects your stomach from this strong acid. Your esophagus is not protected.
In addition, if you smoke, you’re reducing the amount of saliva your body creates. Saliva is one of the natural protective barriers of your esophagus. If you smoke and have GERD, symptoms can be more severe.
Heartburn symptoms typically appear after eating. If you lie down after a meal, it can feel even worse. If you have any of the following symptoms after a meal, you may have heartburn, acid reflux or GERD:
- Bad breath
- Persistent dry cough
- Swallowing difficulties
- Tooth enamel damage from acid (GERD)
- Sour or bitter taste in your mouth and throat
- Burning sensation and pressure in your breastbone
Heartburn or heart attack?
Symptoms of severe heartburn and those of a heart attack can often overlap, but you can usually tell you have heartburn if you experience a burning sensation in your upper abdomen and chest, accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth. The most common and similar symptom of heartburn and a heart attack is the chest pain or discomfort. Other symptoms that may be a more likely indication of heart attack (vs. heartburn) are listed below:
- Cold sweat
- General fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heartburn symptoms
- Sudden lightheadedness
- Pressure or pain in your chest, arms, neck, jaw or back
With heartburn, you may feel like food is coming up into your mouth. It’s a different sensation than vomiting, but severe heartburn can also cause you to vomit. If you’re not sure if you’re experiencing heartburn or a heart attack, seek immediate medical care.
Serious side effects of heartburn
Even if it’s not a heart attack, heartburn can be serious. Dangerous side effects and complications can result if you don’t seek treatment. Some common side effects include:
- Awaking from sleep, especially if you’ve eaten within two hours of going to bed
- Esophageal cancer: if Barrett’s esophagus is not treated
- Esophagus erosion: scarring, ulcers and narrowing of the tube
- Barrett’s esophagus: precancerous condition from chronic acid reflux
- Esophageal strictures and dysphagia: swallowing difficulties due to esophagus damage
Your doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist who can evaluate the severity of your symptoms. To determine if your case is mild, or has potentially damaged your esophagus, there are three common tests your doctor may request:
- Endoscopy: Examining your esophagus and stomach with a small, flexible tube that goes through your nose
- Upper GI series: Examining how a liquid mixture travels through your esophagus and stomach while X-rays are taken
- Esophageal Manometry (Esophageal pH): Examining your esophagus and stomach functions with a small, flexible tube through your nose
You will likely be able to take sedatives when you have tests that involve inserting a tube into your nose. These help keep you calm.
Treatment for heartburn depends on how mild or severe it is. If it’s mild, you can often reduce or eliminate symptoms by taking some antacids and elevating your upper body.
Treatment for more severe heartburn, such as acid reflux or GERD, involves medicines to reduce acid in your stomach. Your doctor may also recommend losing weight, drinking less alcohol and stopping smoking. In extreme cases, you might need surgery to tighten part of your esophagus.
Is your heartburn more than uncomfortable? Visit Mercy.com to find the treatment that’s best for you.
If You’re Suffering From These 5 Symptoms, Your Heartburn Might Actually Be GERD
Not all of them are obvious.
By Stella Katsipoutis
Feel like you just can’t keep that nasty stuff in your belly from bubbling up into your throat? What you’re experiencing might not be run-of-the-mill heartburn. It could be a case of gastroesophageal reflux disease—GERD, for short—a condition that causes the acid and food in your stomach to rise into your esophagus, and sometimes even enter your mouth or lungs. GERD is far from rare: In fact, it occurs in 20 percent of the U.S. population, according to the medical journal Gastroenterology. But there are also several factors that make some people an easier target for the disease.
“Everyone has a small, normal amount of gastroesophageal reflux, but an abnormal amount of acid reflux occurs when the one-way valve between the esophagus and the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter, becomes too loose,” says Ketan Shah, M.D., gastroenterologist at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California. “This can occur for multiple reasons that cause intra-abdominal pressure to be abnormally elevated, including being overweight or obese, frequent overeating, lying down too soon after eating, chronic straining or coughing, or chronic heavy lifting. These are typically the people who are more susceptible to GERD.”
Surprisingly, as common as GERD is, diagnosing it isn’t always a piece of (regurgitated) cake. Different people can experience different warning signs—some of which you wouldn’t typically think are pointing to gastroesophageal reflux. Leaving the disease undiagnosed and untreated could set you up for not only major chronic discomfort in the short term, but also for bigger issues down the road: “It can predispose the esophagus to changes that can eventually lead to cancer,” says Jennifer Katz, M. D., attending gastroenterology physician and assistant professor of medicine at Montefiore Medical Center. So if you’ve picked up on any of these five signals from your body lately, then GERD might be the word—and you should get to a doctor pronto.
Heartburn won’t go away
This one’s easy to spot because it is exactly what it says it is: a burning sensation in your chest. But because heartburn is a condition all of its own, many people don’t play connect-the-dots and realize that persistent heartburn can also be a common symptom of something more serious. “Occasional heartburn and regurgitation is normal to a certain extent,” says Shah, “but when heartburn occurs on a regular basis, then it is likely GERD.” (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)
When GERD starts pumping food and bile out of your stomach and up your throat, the acidic contents can quite literally leave a bitter taste in your mouth. They also blaze what feels like a scorching-hot trail through your esophagus, leaving you with a sore, burning throat and causing your mouth to produce an excess amount of saliva in an effort to put out the flames.
And like any real fire, this particular symptom shouldn’t be taken lightly, says Shah: “This can sometimes result in more serious problems, including esophagitis (damage from acid eroding the lining of the esophagus), hiatal hernia (when the stomach slides up above the diaphragm and into the chest), esophageal ulcers, strictures (or esophageal narrowing from scar tissue), or Barrett’s esophagus (a precancerous condition and the most important risk factor for esophageal cancer).”
“Those who have complications from GERD may have trouble swallowing or feel that certain foods get stuck in their throat when trying to swallow,” says Lea Ann Chen, M.D., gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health. This is also known as dysphagia, and it could lead to unhealthy weight loss if you consistently can’t bring yourself to eat thanks to the lump you feel in your throat.
“Many people find that particular foods trigger their symptoms—like chocolate, caffeine, spicy or acidic foods,” continues Chen. “If so, they should avoid these triggers. In addition, eating frequent small meals and spacing out the time (at least three to four hours) between your last meal or drink and laying down at night may also help.”
Heart Attack Feeling
This is where some detective work might start coming into play. “Because the heart is also located in the chest, where GERD occurs, sometimes GERD symptoms are commonly mistaken for cardiac symptoms. Similarly, sometimes cardiac pain—like a heart attack—can be mistaken for GERD,” says Toyia James-Stevenson, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Indiana University Health. If you’re not sure whether your chest pain is the byproduct of heart troubles or GERD, Katz says your safest bet is to talk to your doc right away to rule out any life-threatening cardiac conditions before you start worrying about GERD.
As stomach acid inches up your food pipe, there’s a possibility that some of it can sneak into your lungs too, causing respiratory issues ranging from no big deal (like persistent coughing, chest congestion, and hoarseness) to totally unexpected (like asthma, laryngitis, pneumonia, or wheezing). “The problem is that GERD is not the most common cause of these atypical symptoms, so patients often go through a variety of tests and treatments before their doctors are able to determine that GERD is the cause,” says Shah.
If you experience recurring acid reflux and a sudden onset of a respiratory issue like asthma, give your doctor a heads-up so they can determine if GERD is the culprit behind your breathing troubles. For the less-intense side effects, like coughing and hoarseness, which can get worse at nighttime, Katz recommends keeping your head elevated when you go to bed and avoiding meals three to four hours before bedtime to help minimize discomfort.
While figuring out if you have GERD could feel like a guessing game at times, the good news is that you’ll have plenty of options for symptom relief and treatment if you’re diagnosed. “There are several over-the-counter medications that can help with GERD, but often altering when and what you eat can dramatically improve symptoms,” says James-Stevenson. “Many primary care physicians treat GERD, so talking with your family physician or gastroenterologist about your symptoms is a great first step.”
Indigestion that last for days? Find out when to seek medical advice
The medical term for indigestion is ‘dyspepsia’ – this includes several different types of abdominal pain caused by problems with your digestive tract.
Symptoms of indigestion
Indigestion covers a multitude of symptoms. The most common is pain – typically a burning pain in your upper abdomen, or travelling behind your breastbone. However, indigestion can also cause:
- Nausea or being sick.
- Bloating of your tummy.
- Feeling full quickly when you eat.
The digestive system
The gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the long tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the back …
Causes of indigestion
Indigestion is usually caused by inflammation in your stomach. This is often due to an excess of stomach acid, which your body produces to digest food. If this acid refluxes into your gullet, it can cause heartburn – burning pain behind your breastbone, sometimes accompanied by a bitter liquid rising into your mouth. In the UK, one in three adults suffer from heartburn and one in six get it at least twice a week.
Other causes include:
Peptic ulcers include ulcers in your stomach and the duodenum – the first part of the gut after your stomach.
Hiatus hernia occurs when the top part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity, and it often causes heartburn.
Medicines are a common cause of indigestion. Some of the most likely culprits include:
If your indigestion starts, or becomes worse, shortly after you start taking one of these medicines, see your GP. They may be able to change your tablet – or the time you take it – to stop indigestion from occurring.
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 (their names all end in ‘-azole’ – omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, etc) keep acid under control much better.
Sometimes a germ called Helicobacter 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.
When to worry
Indigestion and heartburn are rarely due to a serious cause, but there are some ‘red flags’ or warning signs which should be checked out by a doctor. They include:
- Severe pain which doesn’t settle with remedies from your pharmacist or doctor.
- Being off your food or losing weight for no obvious reason.
- Food sticking when you swallow, or severe pain on swallowing.
- Vomiting up blood or black ‘coffee grounds’.
- Blood in your poo, especially if it’s dark red and mixed in with the poo (rather than being on the paper or in the pan) or passing black, tarry poos.
- Feel generally unwell (which can be down to anaemia) or tired.
- Persistent bloating that lasts for three weeks or longer (which could in rare cases be caused by ovarian cancer).
If you get any of these symptoms, if you have a past history of peptic ulcer or a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus, or if you develop persistent indigestion or reflux (especially with weight loss) over the age of 55, your doctor may recommend further investigations.
There are two main investigations.
One is a gastroscopy – a small flexible tube is passed down your throat, sometimes under sedation, to look inside your tummy. This is done as a day case in hospital but you’ll need someone to take you home afterwards.
The other, done where an abnormality of the lower bowel is suspected, is a colonoscopy. You take medicines at home to empty your bowels completely, then go in as a day case to hospital and have a small flexible tube passed up from your bottom to examine your large bowel.
There’s much that you can do to relieve or prevent your symptoms happening the first place.
In heartburn, lying down often brings on the problem because the acid doesn’t have to travel against gravity up into your gullet. Propping the head of the bed up on a couple of bricks may help.
So too can losing weight, avoiding tight belts or trousers and staying away from large meals or eating too close to bedtime.
For other indigestion, you may find that some foods like peppermint, tomatoes, alcohol or spicy foods are best avoided.
Your pharmacist can advise on short-term remedies or a course of tablets to relieve the misery. It’s worth reading our article on probiotics too, to see if they might be worth trying.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) (for Teens)
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)?
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER), also called reflux, is when food and acid from the stomach go back up into the esophagus. This causes an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, often called heartburn.
With GER, reflux happens after nearly every meal and causes noticeable discomfort. After eating, people with GER feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat.
While it’s more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal (gas-tro-ih-sah-fuh-JEE-ul) reflux.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 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.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of GERD?
Often, people who have GERD notice that they regularly have the pain of heartburn in the chest or stomach. This can last up to a couple of hours. Many notice their heartburn is worse after eating.
Regurgitation — when food and liquid containing stomach acid comes back up into the throat or mouth — is also a sign of GERD. But, like heartburn, occasional regurgitation is common for everyone.
Other symptoms of GERD include:
- a sore, raw throat or hoarse voice
- a frequent sour taste of acid, especially when lying down
- a feeling of burping acid into the mouth
- trouble swallowing
- a feeling that food is stuck in the throat
- a feeling of choking that may wake someone up
- a dry cough
- bad breath
What Causes GERD?
GERD happens when acidic stomach contents move backward into the esophagus. The esophagus is a tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. It is separated from the stomach by a small muscle (the esophageal sphincter). This muscle opens and lets food and liquid enter the stomach and closes to prevent the food and liquid from leaking back into the esophagus.
GER and GERD happen when the muscle relaxes at the wrong time or doesn’t close as it should.
This can happen for different reasons:
- In some people, the muscle doesn’t tighten properly.
- In others, it doesn’t close quickly enough or at the right time, letting stomach contents wash back up.
- If a person eats way too much, the stomach may be so stretched the muscle can’t work as it should.
No one knows for sure why people get GERD. Doctors do know that some things can make GERD worse, including obesity, drinking alcohol, and pregnancy.
Some foods and medicines can make GERD symptoms worse. In many people, these foods bring on symptoms:
- citrus fruits
- drinks or foods with caffeine
- fatty and fried foods
- garlic and onions
- spicy foods
- tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, chili, and pizza
How Is GERD Diagnosed?
Tell your parents and visit your doctor if you’ve had heartburn that doesn’t seem to go away or any other symptoms of GERD for a while.
The doctor will do an exam and ask about your symptoms. If the doctor suspects GERD, you might go see a pediatric gastroenterologist. This is a doctor who treats kids and teens who have problems of the gastrointestinal system.
Doctors sometimes order these tests to diagnose GERD or rule out other possible problems:
- Upper GI radiology study. This special X-ray can show liquid backing into the esophagus, irritation or narrowing of the esophagus, and any upper digestive tract problems. For the test, you’ll swallow a small amount of a chalky liquid (barium). This liquid appears on the X-ray and shows the swallowing process.
- Gastric emptying scan (milk scan). This can help show whether a person’s stomach is emptying too slowly, which can make reflux more likely to happen. This test is done either by drinking milk that has a tracer in it or eating scrambled eggs that have a tracer mixed in. A special machine that doesn’t use radiation can detect the tracer to see where it goes and how fast it empties the stomach.
- Upper endoscopy (pronounced: en-DAS-ko-pee). Doctors look at the esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestines using a tiny fiber-optic camera. They also may take a small tissue sample (a biopsy) of the lining of the esophagus to rule out or find other problems. Most patients are given anesthesia and are “asleep” when this procedure is done.
- 24-hour impedance-ph probe study. This is the most accurate way to detect reflux and how often it’s happening. A thin, flexible tube goes through the nose into the esophagus. The tip rests just above the esophageal sphincter for 24 hours to check acid levels in the esophagus and to detect any reflux.
How Is GERD Treated?
Treatment for GERD depends on how severe symptoms are. For some people, treatment may just include lifestyle changes, such as changing what they eat or drink. Others will need to take medicines. In very rare cases, when GERD is particularly severe, a doctor will recommend surgery.
These lifestyle changes can help ease the symptoms of GERD or even prevent the condition:
- quitting smoking
- avoiding alcohol
- losing weight if you are overweight
- eating small meals
- wearing loose-fitting clothes
- avoiding carbonated beverages
- avoiding foods that trigger reflux
It also can help to not lie down for 3 hours after a meal and to not eat 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Doctors sometimes also recommend raising the head of the bed about 6 to 8 inches. Before you start a major bedroom makeover, though, talk to your doctor and your parents about the best sleeping position for you.
If symptoms continue, doctors might prescribe medicine, such as:
- H2 blockers, which can help block the production of stomach acid
- proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid the stomach makes
- prokinetics, which help the esophageal sphincter work better and the stomach empty faster. This can prevent reflux episodes.
For some teens, doctors advise combining medicines to control different symptoms. For example, people who get heartburn after eating can try taking both antacids and H2 blockers. The antacid goes to work first to neutralize the acid in the stomach, while the H2 blocker acts on acid production. By the time the antacid stops working, the H2 blocker will have stopped acid production.
Surgery is rarely needed in healthy teens. If it is, the typical surgical treatment for GERD is called fundoplication (pronounced: fun-doh-plih-KAY-shun). During the surgery, the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter to strengthen the sphincter and prevent reflux. Fundoplication has been used in people of all ages, even babies with severe GERD.
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.
90,000 Let’s find out what to do if you suffer from heartburn every day?
Heartburn occurs when acid from stomach acid comes into contact with the lining of the esophagus and causes irritation. Many people suffer from this ailment only occasionally, usually after eating.
Why does it appear and what to do when heartburn does not allow to live peacefully? There may be several reasons:
• The valve holding the gastric juice in the stomach has weakened.
• Some foods (sugar, alcohol, coffee, mint, fatty and fried foods, chocolate) have the ability to relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
• Heavy food intake, especially before bedtime, has the ability to increase compression of the lower stomach valve, thereby provoking its relaxation.
• Pressure on the abdomen from a constant sedentary lifestyle, tight clothing or excess weight also provokes unpleasant symptoms.
• Stress increases the production of stomach acid and slows down gastric emptying.
• Heartburn every day can be the result of an abnormal structure of the esophagus, neoplasms in it or adjacent tissues.
What is the danger of this disease?
Pay attention to the frequency of symptoms. If heartburn appears once a month, this is a mild form of this problem. Moderate once a week. But in the event that heartburn appears every day, you are faced with a severe form that requires treatment.
Rare heartburn attacks can be cured by losing weight, eating a healthy diet and following the simple tips below.
In the presence of a severe form, such measures can bring relief only for a short time. What to do if heartburn manifests itself in a severe form? Treatment cannot be postponed. Daily seizures can be signs of serious illness with potentially dire consequences.
In people with GERD, heartburn is a source of scarring in the esophagus every day. Such lesions make it difficult to swallow and constrict the esophagus.
Chronic acid exposure can increase the likelihood of esophageal cancer.
Heartburn every day: how to learn to control?
1. Replace three large meals with frequent meals in small portions.
2. Train yourself to eat slowly. To discourage the urge to swallow food quickly – put a spoon or fork on the table while chewing food.
3. Eating three hours before bed in the evening will help reduce gastric acid production by the time you go to bed.
4. A high pillow or raised head of the bed will make it possible to prevent gastric acid from flowing into the esophagus during sleep.Therefore, you should pay attention to how you sleep.
5. It is necessary to reduce the consumption of foods and drinks that can cause heartburn. These are citrus juices and sodas, coffee and alcohol; tomatoes and chocolate, mint and onions, fatty foods. Record all the foods you eat in your food diary to understand which foods are causing heartburn.
6. You should stop smoking, as nicotine has the property of weakening the lower esophageal sphincter.
7. It is necessary to wear loose clothing, as the stomach is compressed from tight things, which helps to push the contents of the stomach up.
8. It is important to monitor body weight. Excess belly fat, as well as tight clothing, puts pressure on the stomach. As a result – heartburn every day.
9. Learn to drink warm liquid. A glass of herbal tea or mildly warmed water after a meal helps to thin the stomach acid and reduce acidity.
Heartburn and Reflux Disease – MedSwiss Medical Center
Heartburn – a specific burning sensation behind the breastbone, often spreading to the throat, sometimes with a sour taste in the mouth – one of the most frequent symptoms with which patients go to the doctor.More than 40% of adults report this problem. Heartburn occurs with errors in the diet: after eating fatty, fried, spicy, acidic foods, alcohol, overeating and after eating foods that cause bloating, but it can occur without obvious provoking factors, even on an empty stomach. Heartburn often disturbs sporadically, at the same time, in some patients it occurs every day, persists for many hours, interferes with sleep, distracts from work and significantly disrupts the quality of life.
The cause of heartburn is the throwing of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus.Normally, food, after being swallowed through the esophagus, enters the stomach, where, under the action of acid and digestive enzymes, its digestion begins, then the food enters the small intestine, then into the large intestine, where it continues to be processed and the substances necessary for the body are absorbed. Thus, the food bolt moves strictly in one direction, a long throw in the opposite direction is called reflux and leads to diseases. A healthy inner (mucous) membrane of the stomach and intestines is adapted to digestive juices, therefore, protected from their action.However, if acidic, enzyme-rich gastric juice enters the esophagus, which is “unusual” for such an environment, its mucous membrane is damaged and inflammation of the esophagus occurs – esophagitis. The throwing of stomach contents (other Greek gaster) into the esophagus (Latin œsóphagus) is called gastroesophageal reflux, and the disease in which such a throw occurs is gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn is the most common symptom of GERD.
Left norm: after food enters the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter contracts, which, together with other mechanisms, prevents the reflux of acidic gastric contents from the stomach into the esophagus.
On the right is the mechanism of GERD: when the antireflux mechanism is disturbed, the acidic contents of the stomach enter the esophagus, which causes heartburn.
Many GERD patients do not consider heartburn to be a manifestation of the disease. Having learned that heartburn is characteristic of half of their acquaintances, they believe it is an inevitable evil, which can be dealt with by the occasional use of a solution of soda (which cannot be done categorically!) Or drugs for heartburn, actively advertised on television. In fact, GERD is a serious pathology that can lead to serious consequences.
Thus, prolonged exposure to acidic contents leads to the development of erosions and ulcers of the esophagus, that is, “wounds” and large “wounds” on the mucous membrane, which can bleed, and when the ulcers heal, narrowing (stenosis) of the esophagus develops, making it difficult to swallow food. Another complication of GERD is esophageal cancer, the precursor of which is a mucosal change called Barrett’s esophagus. In addition to heartburn and sour taste in the mouth, GERD can also manifest itself with other symptoms that patients do not associate with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract: cough, wheezing and shortness of breath, sore throat, hoarseness, caries. Patients are sometimes unsuccessfully treated for diseases with similar symptoms, but there is another risk: to confuse GERD with similar symptoms of heart, lung or ENT organ diseases that the patient actually has.
Due to the severe complications of GERD, as well as the need to exclude similar diseases, in the event of heartburn, it is strongly recommended to consult a doctor. Diagnostics, in addition to collecting anamnesis and standard medical examination, includes the performance of esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGDS) to assess the condition of the esophageal mucosa, to exclude complications of GERD.It may also be necessary to perform additional examinations, incl. electrocardiogram, respiratory function tests, etc. In case of a complicated course of GERD, laboratory tests may be required.
Complex treatment of GERD. In the first place are activities that do not require the purchase of drugs and generally any financial costs: changing the usual diet. Often this alone is enough to forget about heartburn, although it is precisely the adherence to dietary recommendations that causes the greatest difficulties for patients.
- You need to eat often (5 times a day), in small portions, avoid overeating. Throwing from the stomach into the esophagus is much more likely when the stomach is overfilled: the more contents, the higher the intragastric pressure, the easier food gets back into the esophagus.
- The less content in the stomach, the less likely it is to be thrown, which means you need to give the digestive system time to move food from the stomach into the intestine. The interval between meals should be about 3 hours.
- In the supine position, the probability of throwing is much higher: the contents from the stomach “flow” into the esophagus according to the law of communicating vessels. After eating, you can not go to bed for 2-3 hours, you need to sit, walk; last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Certain foods cause relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, or increase the production of acidic gastric juice. Therefore, you need to avoid the use of certain foods that often lead to heartburn: fatty, sour (including sour fruit juices), spicy, smoked, peppercorns, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes and their derivatives (tomato paste, juice, ketchup), alcoholic and carbonated drinks , foods that cause bloating (in particular, brown bread, cabbage, grapes, whole milk cause bloating in many people; you need to track which foods individually cause bloating).
- Pressure in the stomach is increased by tight clothing that squeezes the stomach. People with GERD should not tighten the waist belt tightly and wear loose clothing. If you have to lift something, especially after eating, it is better to sit down than bend over.
All GERD patients are encouraged to follow these tips. But in some cases, in addition to lifestyle changes, medication is still required. With GERD, drugs are prescribed that reduce the production of acid in the stomach, improve the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract, as well as directly “extinguish” acid in the esophagus and stomach.It is allowed to use only drugs registered by the Ministry of Health, in the indications for which heartburn or GERD is indicated. It is categorically not recommended to take a solution of soda, hydrogen peroxide and other agents, which in themselves damage the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract, and also have a general toxic effect and only contribute to the throwing of contents from the stomach into the esophagus. Medicines are prescribed by a doctor based on the results of the necessary examinations. In rare cases, surgery is needed to treat GERD.
90,000 Stomach hurts after eating, what to do at home? Stomach pain
Signal lights: why is it important to identify the source of the pain?
“And next to them, hippos grabbed their tummies: they, hippos, had stomach pains” – for the great doctor Aibolit, this was a sufficient anamnesis to choose the most correct treatment. In life, everything is much more complicated.
Abdominal pain can indicate a wide variety of digestive problems, which definitely cannot be cured with a thermometer and chocolate.First of all, the differences in pain sensations are associated with the location of the organ – the source of pain. For example,
stomach pains are usually localized in the epigastric (epigastric) region, which is below the sternum. There is also a feeling of hunger – a signal that the stomach is empty. Stomach pains may vary in duration and
strength. They can be permanent or paroxysmal, becoming stronger, then practically disappearing. In diseases of the stomach, pain can spread beyond the epigastric region.Unpleasant and painful sensations can
spread to the back and to the left side of the chest. The severity of stomach pain also depends on the disease: sometimes it is a slight discomfort that can be ignored. In other cases, it is a sharply arising, pronounced pain syndrome that requires urgent seeking help 1.2 .
Signs that, in combination with abdominal pain, require urgent medical attention 1.2 *.
- Acute onset of pain and its duration 6 or more hours;
- Continuous increase in pain intensity;
- Decrease in blood pressure and heart palpitations;
- Increasing weakness, apathy, dizziness;
- Temperature rise;
- Constant vomiting;
- The appearance of blood in vomit or during bowel movements.
* If stomach pains are accompanied by at least one of the above symptoms, this may indicate a threat to human life 2 .
One symptom that can be confused with stomach pain is heartburn, a feeling of warmth or burning that is located in the same epigastric region or in the lower chest. Our digestive tract is a one-way road
movement, but sometimes the rule is violated: food from the stomach is thrown into the esophagus, causing heartburn 90 100 3 90 101.
I think I ate something: what could be the causes of stomach pain and heartburn?
Overeating or eating a lot of spicy and acidic foods can cause stomach discomfort and heartburn. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and coffee, and smoking can also lead to them. If pain
in the stomach occurs immediately after eating or 0.5-1 hours after eating, this may indicate the possible presence of peptic ulcer disease. The appearance of pain in the stomach 2-3 hours after a meal may indicate the location
ulcers in the duodenum.Pain in the stomach on an empty stomach and night pains may be associated with the same problem. A possible cause of stomach pain, epigastric discomfort and heartburn is the use of non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They make the gastric mucosa more susceptible to the effects of acidic gastric juice 2 .
Antacids and Diet: How to Treat Stomach Pain and Heartburn
Treatment of heartburn and stomach pain includes medication and non-medication methods.
Simple ways that can significantly alleviate the condition and cope with heartburn and stomach pain without drugs 90 100 2.3 .
- Avoid large meals that lead to overeating.
- Do not wear tight clothing or tight belts.
- Limit the diet by removing coffee, oranges and chocolate.
- Do not take a horizontal position immediately after eating or eat before bedtime.
- There are fewer spicy and sour foods.
If stomach pain, heartburn and other discomfort rarely occur, antacids can be used – medicines that can help quickly cope with stomach pain and heartburn, reducing acidity
gastric contents. Drugs in this group are divided into absorbable and non-absorbable antacids. The former will quickly reduce the acidity of gastric juice. However, there is also a side effect – absorbed antacids can increase secretion.
gastric juice and stretch the stomach due to the formation of carbon dioxide in the eye.As a result, stomach pain may occur some time after taking 4.5 .
Non-absorbable antacids neutralize the effect of gastric hydrochloric acid due to the combination of active ingredients, including magnesium and aluminum compounds. Their effect against stomach pains can last up to 3 hours,
nor do they cause an increase in pain. However, there is some subtlety when using this group of drugs, the absorption of other drugs may be impaired. Therefore, the interval between taking antacids and other drugs
must be at least two hours 90 100 5
One of the modern non-absorbable antacids is Maalox ® , which can help relieve stomach pain and heartburn if they are caused by specific diseases (GERD, gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer) 90 100 5.6 . Besides
the drug is indicated for heartburn, sour belching and pain in the stomach, when these symptoms occur on the background of overeating or in violation of the diet 90 100 6 90 101. The drug is available in a wide variety of but equally convenient forms: chewable
tablets, suspension in a vial and in separate sachets 90 100 6 90 101.
90,000 causes in the early and late stages
Table of contents:
Due to changes in the body during pregnancy, heartburn may appear – in the early stages or in the third trimester
Symptoms of heartburn
If, after eating, you start to feel a burning sensation in the sternum, an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, and a heaviness in your stomach, this is heartburn. It can also cause nausea, discomfort in the throat, difficulty swallowing. Similar troubles happen if you suddenly bend and straighten or just lie down after dinner.
Why does heartburn occur during pregnancy
Heartburn begins when the acidic contents of the stomach (in medicine it is called refluxate) enters the esophagus and its mucous membrane becomes irritated, in fact – gets a chemical burn. This also happens in healthy people, but pregnant women find it especially difficult: after all, the high content of the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the muscles of the uterus so that it does not begin to contract and does not cause premature birth, affects other smooth muscles, including the sphincter, whose main the task is to separate the stomach from the esophagus, and on the walls of the stomach, which in normal situations are supposed to contract intensively, returning the refluxate back into the stomach 90 100 1.2 90 101.In addition, the esophagus is already irritated by the frequent vomiting caused by toxicosis in the early stages of pregnancy. Yes, and the growth of the uterus affects the surrounding organs, including the stomach and esophagus: they gradually become closer and closer, it is not for nothing that the symptoms of heartburn begin to appear, as a rule, in the third trimester, when the fetus is fully formed and has grown to about 25 cm.
How to deal with heartburn during pregnancy
There are a few simple first steps to take.
Firstly, a doctor leading a pregnancy will probably be able to recommend an optimal diet – to exclude from the diet fatty, spicy, sour, and better fried foods, as well as foods that are high in fiber (cabbage, radishes, radishes, peas, beans, lentils, black bread, bran bread), sugary and highly carbonated drinks, chocolate, coffee and alcohol (if you did not do this at the very beginning of pregnancy).
Secondly, it is necessary to change the diet: there is a little, but often, 5-6 times a day. For heartburn, fermented milk products, boiled and baked fish or lean meat, stewed vegetables (preferably in olive oil) and grated, baked fruits, dried fruit compotes are useful. 4 hours before bedtime. It is better to sleep on a high pillow or with the head of the bed raised, and if heartburn breaks out in the middle of the night, get up and walk a little.In an upright position, it is easier for the refluxate to return to its proper place.
By the way, that is why it is better to maintain posture during pregnancy: the straighter the back, the less pressure on the stomach and esophagus. For the same reason, it is better to avoid tight clothing: the abdominal organs are already having a hard time, you should not put pressure on them from the outside.
In any case, the doctor leading the pregnancy should know about all changes in well-being. It is he who will help you choose drugs that will save you during attacks and reduce them to a minimum.You may need to consult a specialist gastroenterologist. But it will be possible to finally cope with heartburn during pregnancy, most likely, only after childbirth.
What drugs help with heartburn
Since heartburn is caused primarily by acid, the main task is to neutralize this acid. Accordingly, the most obvious drugs are antacids, that is, anti-acid. In modern medicine, magnesium and calcium compounds are often used, for example, in the composition of the drug “Rennie”, which neutralizes acid and is indicated for use in pregnant women.
The doctor can also recommend medicinal mineral waters, especially since during pregnancy, and in case of heartburn in particular, it is recommended to drink as much as possible.
There are also folk remedies – infusions of centaury, calamus root, ginger tea.
But before taking anything, you should definitely consult your doctor. Remember that heartburn during pregnancy is nothing more than a temporary problem that shouldn’t overshadow the emotionally intense weeks before childbirth.
- Richter J. E. Heartburn, Review article: the management of heartburn in pregnancy. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Nov 1; 22 (9): 749-57.
- Burkov S.G. Heartburn of pregnant women // Gynecology. Supplement to the journal Consilium medicum. 2004. T. 6, No. 2 // http://old.consilium-medicum.com/media/gynecology/04_02/76.shtml
90,000 what to do if your stomach hurts?
It is difficult to find a person who would not have been diagnosed with gastritis at least once – many people use this word to refer to any anxiety in the stomach.In fact, real gastritis – inflammation of the stomach wall – is not so common, and it can only be diagnosed by examining a piece of tissue under a microscope.
If such a tissue sample is not taken, then one cannot unequivocally speak of inflammation, even when the inner surface of the stomach was examined using gastroscopy and redness or erosion (superficial sores) was seen. Therefore, doctors use two different concepts: “gastritis” (actually inflammation) and “gastropathy” (a condition where the wall of the stomach is damaged, but there is no inflammation).
How to distinguish one condition from another and to be cured, we figure out together with the doctors: Candidate of Medical Sciences, gastroenterologist, General Director of the Evidence-Based Medicine Clinic “Rassvet”, the author of the book “Intestine with Comfort” Alexei Paramonov and Candidate of Medical Sciences, gastroenterologist of GMS Clinic Alexei Golovenko.
Why is the stomach inflamed
The stomach contains an aggressive environment: gastric juice is hydrochloric acid and enzymes.At the same time, the organ does not digest itself: the acid does not have access to the stomach lining, which is protected by a layer of mucus. Only those areas where this layer is destroyed are exposed to the aggressive effect of gastric juice.
Painkillers (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and alcohol are enemies of the protective layer.
Their effects change the properties of mucus over time. As a result, the acid begins to affect the stomach – and gastropathy develops, and an ulcer may develop later.But the connection between spicy food, smoked meats, fibrous foods and damage to the gastric mucosa has not been proven by scientists.
In addition to external influences, internal factors can affect the condition of the stomach – for example, there is an autoimmune gastritis. Acute inflammation can develop from a viral infection and usually resolves quickly without requiring treatment.
Should I be afraid of Helicobacter pylori
The bacterium Helicobacter pylori (Helicobacter) is able to break down mucus, exposing the stomach wall.Its “goal” is to get to the latter and provoke constant inflammation or ulcers, and then cause a precancerous condition – metaplasia. It is interesting that most people have Helicobacter (for example, in Russia – 80% of the population) – and this has been going on for more than fifty thousand years.
To the question “why has humanity not yet died out from stomach cancer?” the answer is simple: most carriers of the infection still do not develop inflammation. This is due to the fact that the immune system and Helicobacter reach “armed neutrality”: bacteria interact with human immunity in a complex way and win only sometimes.However, the risk still remains – and it is not difficult for microorganisms to access the stomach if you often drink painkillers or abuse alcohol.
Just a few years ago, it was believed that it was necessary to identify and destroy Helicobacter only in individual cases. Today, this is shown to almost all adult patients: experts are sure that the bacterium is the main provocateur of stomach cancer. According to the recommendations of the Kyoto Global Agreement on Helicobacter pylori-associated gastritis, it is necessary to be examined and treated from the age of twelve.European consensus recommendations are slightly different: everyone who lives in countries with a high risk of stomach cancer (in particular in Russia and Japan) should get rid of H. , vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as those taking pain relievers and anticoagulants.
Alexey Paramonov draws attention to the fact that the damage caused by Helicobacter is different for different people, but the risk of developing a malignant stomach tumor is increased for each carrier.According to the doctor, it is especially important to eliminate the bacterium for those who have to take anti-acid drugs for a long time (omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole). These drugs contribute to the development of atrophy of the stomach lining – and this is the first step to cancer, if the germs are not destroyed. But there is good news: timely methods of combating these bacteria allow the mucous membrane to fully recover.
What is easy to confuse gastritis with
According to gastroenterologist Aleksey Golovenko, most of the symptoms that many associate with “gastritis” have nothing to do with inflammation, stomach ulcers, or dangerous bacteria.A feeling of heaviness in the abdomen after eating, bloating in the stomach, nausea or severe weakness after fatty foods most often speak of functional dyspepsia – that is, a violation of the digestive process. First of all, we are talking about impaired motility (motor activity) of the digestive organs, which can be caused, for example, by stress. To improve the condition, it is usually enough to drink prokinetics (for example, domperidone or itopride) – drugs that stimulate the motility of the gastrointestinal tract.Psychotherapy and antidepressant medications can also work, but they must be prescribed by a doctor.
Alexey Paramonov emphasizes that it is not safe to use classic pain relievers for any discomfort in the abdomen: most of them can lead to an ulcer by themselves. First aid for acute stomach pain is an antacid that neutralizes gastric acid. Another effective option is the so-called proton pump inhibitors, which also reduce acidity.But you still need to visit a doctor: it is important to understand the cause of the ailments and undergo treatment. For example, pregnant women often complain of so-called reflux disease or pregnancy heartburn, when acid from the stomach enters the esophagus. And if you do not need to follow a special diet with gastritis or dyspepsia (the benefits of Soviet “tables” have not been scientifically proven), then in this case the diet will have to be changed. Such a diet will not be rigid and certainly will not interfere with the development of the fetus.
If pain in the upper abdomen, heartburn, belching, nausea appeared for the first time and you are less than forty-five years old, there is no point in doing gastroscopy: treatment of dyspepsia can be prescribed without looking into the stomach.
According to the recommendations of the American College of Gastroenterology, gastroscopy is relevant when there is a possibility of detecting an ulcer, metaplasia or tumor. Symptoms of such conditions: discomfort when swallowing, iron deficiency anemia, frequent vomiting, unintentional weight loss by more than 5% in six months. Otherwise, it is sufficient to perform a Helicobacter breath test and eliminate bacteria, if any. Only if after this the state of health has not improved, you need to undergo a gastroscopy with a biopsy – the latter is required to confirm gastritis and allows you to assess the risk of developing stomach cancer in the future.
If you are over forty-five years old or one of your close relatives has had stomach cancer, then at the first “stomach” complaints the doctor will prescribe a gastroscopy. This examination allows you to detect not only gastritis, but also, for example, inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis) or an ulcer. The unpleasant procedure has no alternative yet, but in order not to suffer, “swallowing the intestine”, it is already now possible to be examined under anesthesia. There is progress in the treatment of peptic ulcer disease.Alexey Paramonov says that twenty years ago it was possible to cope with it by removing part of the stomach. Now surgeons recommend surgery only in an emergency, for example, in case of complications that have already arisen – and in other cases, the affected areas of the stomach are simply cauterized with a laser or radio waves.
What to do to prevent illness
In fact, getting rid of Helicobacter pylori, avoiding frequent use of painkillers, not drinking too much alcohol and not taking too long breaks between meals is the best prevention of gastritis.And in order to prevent functional dyspepsia (after all, it is she who most often causes stomach discomfort), Alexey Golovenko advises not to forget about training: regular physical activity reduces unpleasant symptoms. Learning to deal with stress more easily is also helpful – meditation can help.
Why folk remedies and dietary supplements will not help
Self-medication of gastritis or stomach ulcers with dietary supplements, as well as a decoction of plantain, sea buckthorn oil, badger fat and other “finds” of traditional medicine, even if they once helped your grandmother, according to experts, is useless and may even worsen the condition.Trying the “magic pill”, you participate in the lottery: such drugs have not been tested in clinical studies, which means that one can only guess what the result will be.
Alexei Paramonov cites a case that happened to his patient: a man was diagnosed with three stomach ulcers, but instead of the prescribed treatment, he went to hunt a badger – he remembered that badger fat saves from an illness. As a result, fat for breakfast, lunch and dinner provoked severe bleeding from ulcers – the patient was saved at the last moment.And after the extermination of Helicobacter and a course of drugs that lower acidity, the person managed to fully recover in less than a month.
28 tips on how to get rid of heartburn during sleep.
Millions of people a day experience symptoms of heartburn and the more serious illness of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Observations show that nighttime heartburn affects nearly four out of five people with these symptoms.As a result, disturbed sleep, weakness, fatigue, drowsiness the next day.
If you are experiencing symptoms of nocturnal heartburn, lifestyle changes, exercise, and dietary advice can help relieve these symptoms.
12 Foods and Drinks to Relieve Nighttime Heartburn
1.) To prevent heartburn, limit acidic foods such as grapefruit, oranges, tomatoes, or vinegar.
2.) Can spicy foods cause heartburn? Cut back on peppers or chili.
3.) Do not lie down for two to three hours after eating. When you are upright, gravity helps move from the stomach into the small intestine. On the contrary, in the lying position, food can get from the stomach both into the intestines and back into the esophagus. As a result, the acid secreted by the stomach to digest food causes irritation of the esophageal lining and symptoms of heartburn. There is even a symptom in medicine that describes this condition. It is called a symptom of laces. As soon as a person tries to tie his shoelaces, immediately the food is sent back.
4.) Eat lean meats and low-fat foods. Fatty foods (such as fries and cheeseburgers) can cause heartburn.
5.) Want to avoid symptoms causing GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)? You can cut back on chocolate, mint, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, vinegar, ketchup, and mustard. 6.) Avoid drinks that can cause reflux, such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and sodas.
7.) Amount of food eaten matters: Eat small meals and you can avoid triggering GERD symptoms.
8.) Perhaps you allow yourself some alcoholic drinks in the evening? Stop drinking alcohol if you have symptoms of heartburn. Alcohol relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscles in the esophagus, which causes stomach contents to back up into the esophagus and worsens the symptoms and course of GERD.
9.) Do you drink cola? It’s time to cut back on carbonated drinks.Heartburn and cola consumption can be linked and cause symptoms of GERD.
10.) To prevent heartburn, do not eat too fast! Try placing your fork on a plate before bringing it to your mouth.
11.) Do not eat when you wake up at night. Going to a restaurant before bed can cause heartburn.
12.) You can reduce the risk of nocturnal heartburn if you eat two to three hours before bedtime.
16 Tips for relieving heartburn.
1.) Do not go to bed in tight or tight clothing.Remove tight belts, pantyhose belts, these things can squeeze the stomach, causing heartburn.
2.) Strive for a less stressful life. Stress can increase the amount of acid in your stomach, increasing your heartburn symptoms. Always remember that no one pays your salary for the fact that you are nervous.
3.) Are you overweight? Try to lose weight. Overweight pressure increases the chance of stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus.
4.) Do you take popular antacids (heartburn medications) more than once a week? Perhaps you have GERD, not heartburn.More careful treatment is needed to treat GERD. You need to contact the var for advice.
5.) If you wake up in the middle of the night with heartburn, try an antacid, which neutralizes the acid in your stomach. Fresh cucumber is suitable for relieving heartburn from vegetables, you can eat a cucumber without salt.
6.) You should know after eating what kind of food you have heartburn. Different people will have different foods that cause GERD symptoms. Monitor your symptoms to find the product that is causing your heartburn symptoms….
7.) Are you pregnant? You may experience heartburn or GERD. Talk to your doctor about seeking help for you.
8.) Is heartburn worse after exercise? Drink plenty of water. Water helps with hydration and digestion.
9.) Uncontrolled GERD can drastically increase the risk of esophageal cancer. But reflux esophagitis can be managed. Talk to your doctor about your treatment.
10.) Try keeping a diary of heartburn symptoms.
11.) Get into the habit of not going to bed after eating. Wait at least 2-3 hours after eating before going to bed.
12.) Do you have physical activity or training? Exercise after eating can cause heartburn Wait at least two hours after eating before exercising.
13.) Nicotine can relax the esophageal sphincter. If you smoke, quit this habit.
14.) Certain medications may worsen reflux esophaitis.Talk to your doctor about treatment alternatives.
15.) Reducing heartburn symptoms is possible if during sleep, your body is not in a horizontal position, but in a position where the head and chest are raised and are above the level of the abdomen. Place 2 pillows under your head and chest.
16.) Bandages, corsets and other form-fitting clothing tend to increase reflux symptoms.
How to get rid of heartburn using folk methods
It is possible to extinguish the fire raging inside without the help of medicines.
Every kitchen has the right medicine to fight heartburn.
Probably, each of us at least once in our life has come across the sensation when there is a “fire raging” inside, nausea suffers and at the same time, for some reason, it hurts slightly in the chest area. The reason for this is a sharp increase in acidity in the stomach.
Unpleasant sensations most often appear from overeating, during pregnancy in women, exacerbation of diseases of the digestive system, alcohol abuse, after active exercise in the afternoon and in a number of other cases.
This is an unpleasant phenomenon. Fortunately, there are a number of ‘traditional medicine’ tips to help you get rid of heartburn quickly.
So, the following are especially effective:
Viburnum jam. To reduce symptoms, a couple of spoons of jam from berries grated with sugar is enough;
Infusion of celery root. Drink one tablespoon of the infusion every day after each meal.To prepare a drink, grate the root on a fine grater and pour boiling water over it;
Aloe juice. Squeeze one teaspoon from the leaves of the plant, add to 250 ml of water. This composition will quickly relieve unpleasant symptoms;
Soda. Solution of 0.5 tsp. soda and a glass of warm water. The resulting product quickly neutralizes hydrochloric acid in the stomach and relieves all symptoms in 10 minutes;
Honey. Mix a spoonful of honey in a glass of warm water and drink. You can also eat one spoonful of honey after a meal, but be sure to wash it down with warm tea;
White cabbage. Drink a couple of tablespoons of freshly squeezed cabbage juice. It is best to use this remedy regularly, one tablespoon immediately after meals;
Rice broth. It is the broth that has stood in a warm place for a couple of hours that is useful.