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 , closes to keep the food in. But sometimes the LES is weak or doesnt properly close, allowing stomach acid to backup, which irritates the lining of the esophagus. Thats acid reflux, or heartburn.
The American College of Gastroenterology;;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. Its best to not eat in the hours leading up to bedtime, says Dr. Hagan.
- If youre overweight or obese, losing some weight can help.
- If you smoke, do your best to quit.
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The Next Steps May Differ
While occasional heartburn or indigestion happens to most people at some point, symptoms that occur frequently or over an extended period of time need to be evaluated by your doctor, as they could indicate a serious illness.
In some cases, heartburn and indigestion respond to lifestyle changes. Avoiding trigger foods, shedding excess weight, not eating too close to bedtime and elevating the head of the bed are all potentially helpful. Eating smaller meals, eating more slowly, not smoking or consuming alcohol and reducing stress may be helpful as well. Heartburn also responds to over-the-counter and prescription medications that suppress stomach acid.
If the underlying cause of your symptoms is unclear, additional tests may be needed in some instances and an endoscopy may be performed. Endoscopy is a procedure in which a slender tube containing a camera is slid down the throat to examine digestive tract lining. Testing can also determine the presence of H. pylori bacteria. If your doctor identifies an underlying cause of indigestion, a specific treatment program may be recommended.
Medical advisor: Jonathan E. Aviv, M.D., FACS
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Give Yourself A Buffer Before Bedtime
If you lay down immediately after eating, its going to be easier for acid to flow back up. Thats why we recommend eating your last meal of the day two to three hours before bedtime. You can even develop a bedtime routine with activities like meditation thatll make your mind and body even more relaxed.
When To See A Doctor About Heartburn Vs Indigestion
If your symptoms of heartburn and/or indigestion dont improve after a few weeks of home remedies and preventive measures, see your doctor.
Chronic heartburn or indigestion issues could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. To get to the root of chronic indigestion or heartburn issues, your doctor may order a few tests, including:
- a physical exam of your abdomen
- acid probe tests to measure when stomach acid reaches back into your esophagus
- imaging tests, such as X-rays and endoscopies , to look at your esophagus and stomach
- blood or stool tests to rule out bacterial infections that may be causing indigestion
- pain in your abdomen that doesnt go away
- frequent vomiting
- blood in vomit or stools
- tar-colored stools
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Whats The Real Difference
Acid reflux is a regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus. It causes a sour taste in the back of your throat, coughing, and a burning pain in the chest especially when lying down.
GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Whereas acid reflux is a common condition, GERD is a chronic and more serious disease believed to be caused by frequent reflux. If left unchecked, it can result in serious injury to the lining of the esophagus or even cancer.
If you have acid reflux issues more than 2 times a week, you most likely have GERD.
GERD symptoms are similar to acid reflux but more serious.
- Regurgitating food
- Chest pain especially at night
- Bad breath
- Damage to tooth enamel from the excess acid exposure
Ways To Relieve Acid Reflux Without Medication
Top 8 Home Remedies for Acid Reflux. Let us quickly see some of the home remedies for acid reflux! 1. Baking Soda. Baking soda is a basic substance and we know when a base is added to an acidic solution, neutralization of the acid takes place. Baking soda works, in the same way, to reduce the pain from acid reflux.
7 Simple Ways To Prevent Heartburn Across America, US Once you understand the causes of heartburn, planning your Fourth of July menu is a whole lot easier.
Aloe vera successfully treats inflammation, reducing acid reflux symptoms and heartburn during pregnancy. 10. Grapefruit. Eat 1 grapefruit after each meal. It may sound counterintuitive, since grapefruit is known to be particularly acidic, but this fruit stimulates bile production in a powerful way. Once grapefruit is digested, it becomes alkaline.
Zantac is ranitidine and you dont have to go to Sams Club to get it. Its in any drug store over the counter. You can get 75mg or 150mg. But mustard does work too. Runners also use mustard during their run to help prevent leg cramps. So maybe the de-cramping effect helps the stomach in some way.
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Do You Have Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
Laryngopharyngeal reflux or LPR is a type of esophageal reflux that doesnt involve the tell-tale sign of GERD: heartburn. As a result, patients have a difficult time understanding the nature of their symptoms. In most cases, patients with LPR dont even know they have reflux, which is why the disorder is called silent reflux.;
LPR is caused by the same mechanism that triggers GERD. When the lower esophageal sphincter loosens, stomach contents travel back up the esophagus. In this case, stomach acids travel further up the pharynx, reaching the larynx and nasal pathways. As a result, a patient with LPR experiences symptoms like:
- Chronic cough
- Difficult swallowing; feeling of persistent lump in the throat
- Post-nasal drip
Can You Have Reflux Without Heartburn
Most of us have heard of gastroesophageal reflux disease, frequently referred to as GERD. GERD is one of the most commonly diagnosed digestive disorders in the U.S. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month. GERD is a common and oftentimes a complex, chronic condition that manifests in various ways other than with the typical heartburn symptoms. It can be difficult to diagnose and manage, but with the proper dietary, behavioral and medical therapy, a patient can return to a normal healthy life, says Chris Lascarides, MD, gastroenterologist at Mather Gastroenterology. If you have GERD, you may have experienced heartburn or indigestion. But is it possible to suffer from reflux and not know it?
Laryngopharyngeal reflux or silent reflux is a condition in which acid from the stomach travels up the esophagus and gets to the throat. This type of acid reflux typically does not produce heartburn or indigestion like GERD.; Because these hallmark GERD symptoms are absent, or silent, many people dont realize theyre suffering from reflux.
Whats the difference between silent reflux & GERD?
Someone with silent reflux may not have classic GERD symptoms, particularly heartburn, making it more difficult to diagnose, and leaving the sufferer unaware that they have it. The most common symptoms of silent reflux include:
- Mild difficulty swallowing
- Non-productive throat clearing
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Whats The Difference Between Acid Reflux Heartburn And Gerd
Many of us will experience some digestive discomfort in our lifetime. A common complaint people have is heartburn or acid reflux. People use the terms heartburn and acid reflux almost interchangeably. You may also hear cases of acid reflux referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease .;
So if youre dealing with any of these issues, you might want to know: whats the difference between acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD? All three are closely related, but they differ in important ways. In the most basic terms: heartburn is a symptom, acid reflux is a process, and GERD is a chronic condition.
Most people have experienced what is referred to as heartburn. Many people get heartburn after eating certain foods. Heartburn is a feeling of burning in the chest. The burning pain may be mild or severe. It often begins as discomfort behind the breastbone but can move up to the neck and throat. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and GERD.
Acid reflux is a process in which stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the stomach to the throat. Acid reflux is sometimes called gastroesophageal reflux, or GER and is the cause of heartburn.;
Common symptoms of acid reflux include burning pain and pressure starting behind the breastbone that may extend up the neck and throat, sore throat, cough, bitter taste in the throat, and a sour taste in the mouth.
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Is There A Difference Between Heartburn Acid Reflux And Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Have you ever eaten food and experienced an unpleasant feeling of the food coming back into your throat? That uncomfortable, burning, and even painful sensation is what is known as heartburn.
Heartburns are a common occurrence, and a staggering 60 million-plus Americans usually experience heartburns once a month. Even worse, close to 15 million Americans experience heartburns daily.
But before you look for a gastroenterologist near you, you need to know the interlinking between heartburns, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease .
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Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux Vs Gerd: How To Find Relief
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your health care provider may recommend antacids to neutralize stomach acid or over-the-counter or prescription medications to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach , decrease acid production and help heal the esophagus , or strengthen the LES .
However, these medications arent without side effects. For example, several studies have shown that PPIs may cause severe rebound symptoms after withdrawal of the medicationand these symptoms can continue for weeks after stopping the PPI. Long-term use of PPIs is also associated with a risk of both dementia and kidney damage.
Moreover, a recent study found that long-term use of PPIs is associated with an increased risk of death. And H2 blockers and PPIs can both lead to vitamin B12 deficiency and fractures.
However, theres no denying that GERD symptoms can lead to severe complications over time, and use of medications is certainly warranted in severe cases. But its important to note that most people can reduce or even eliminate symptoms by instituting simple lifestyle changes instead.
If you have symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD, these simple lifestyle changes should help you get back on the road to health. However, if you continue to experience severe or frequent symptoms, be sure to speak with your health care provider for further treatment options.
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Gerd: The More Serious Cause
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease .
Like its name suggests, GERD is a more serious version of acid reflux. They can both cause heartburn. Often people who experience heartburn more than twice a week have GERD.
GERD happens when the closure in your lower esophaguswhich is near your stomachbecomes weak or relaxes when it should not. Symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation, chest pain,;dry cough, shortness of breath, or trouble swallowing.
Treating GERD may require prescription medications. Occasionally, surgery or other procedures may be necessary.
If you suspect you have GERD, make sure to see your provider or a gastroenterologist, a doctor who focuses on the digestive system. This can help prevent future damage to your esophagus, or cancer.
;MedlinePlus; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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Whats The Difference Heartburn Vs Acid Reflux Vs Gerd
If acid reflux, and the heartburn it causes,;becomes chronic, it can progress to GERD.
Heartburn is very common, affecting more than 60 million Americans at least once a month.;Acid reflux and GERDare related to heartburn but each means something a little different. While none of the conditions are life-threatening, they can lead to medical complications and more severe diseases if theyre not treated.
The Causes May Differ
Heartburn is caused by reflux of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus, where it causes irritation and burning. A muscular ring at the bottom of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter normally prevents reflux, but sometimes it fails to form a good seal. There are many foods that can trigger heartburn, such as fatty foods, spicy foods and alcohol — which is known to cause relaxation of the sphincter muscle. Common medications such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers also relax the lower esophageal sphincter and may contribute to heartburn.
When acid reflux is not the cause of indigestion or dyspepsia, often there is no other reason found — that is, there is no evidence of a disease or any visible harm to the tissues. However, some cases of dyspepsia do arise from specific illnesses, including: – stomach or intestinal ulcers or cancer – infection of the stomach with H. pylori bacteria – other conditions that cause inflammation of the stomach lining – hiatal hernia, a problem in which the stomach bulges into the chest cavity – problems with muscular contractions of esophagus and stomach – problems with the pancreas or the flow of bile – certain medications such as nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs
Like GERD, indigestion is often triggered by eating too much or too quickly, or by certain foods such as fatty foods or alcohol. Indigestion is also more likely to occur if you are feeling stressed or anxious.
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What’s The Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Sometimes after you eat, you might experience a painful, burning sensation in your chest. It feels like someone has run a knife through you just beneath the sternum and is taking their time twisting it around.
Although it can feel like your heart is being squeezed in the palm of a giant, what you’re feeling is actually the result of what happens when contents of the stomach — recently swallowed foods and liquids, bile and stomach acid — climb up the esophagus.
When food enters your mouth, digestion begins. Saliva begins to break down the starch contained in your food into smaller molecules. Food is then carried down the esophagus into the stomach, where glands in the lining of the stomach create more digestive products, one of which is stomach acid.
The esophagus is a long tube long for adults) that connects your throat to your stomach. When you swallow food, you start a wavelike motion in the muscles that line the esophagus, and this motion carries food down toward your stomach. When food reaches the end of your esophagus, it must pass through a ring of muscle — the lower esophageal sphincter — in order to reach the stomach. When objects approach the LES from above, this valve opens inward to allow entry into the stomach. Once the objects have passed through the valve, the valve closes, and pressure exerted on the valve from the stomach only further seals the one-way valve. However, not all valves function perfectly all the time .
About The Linx Procedure
The LINX device
The LINX device is a flexible ring that is intended to reduce daily GERD symptoms. When a patient swallows food or water, the device will expand to allow food to enter the stomach. Then almost immediately, it will close again to prevent reflux from the stomach into the esophagus.
The LINX device is implanted surgically. The LINX procedure is done laparoscopically, meaning that the surgeon makes 3 or 4 smaller incisions in the abdomen and uses tools and cameras to implant the device.
It’s a quick procedure and minimally invasive. Patients often go home from the hospital the very same day.
The device is safe and effective in the long-term.
How Is Gerd Diagnosed
The typical tests that your doctor will use to help diagnose GERD include:
24-hour impedance-probe study: This study involves inserting a flexible tub into your nose and advancing it into the esophagus. The tube has sensors that can detect if acid is refluxing past the esophagus.
Upper endoscopy: This test involves using a special tube with a camera on its end. When youre sedated, the tube can be passed from your mouth into your stomach and part of your small intestine. The upper endoscopy test can help a doctor identify any signs of damage, tumors, inflammation, or ulcers in these areas. Your doctor will usually take a tissue sample known as a biopsy.
Acid from the stomach can damage the lining of the esophagus if GERD is left untreated. This can cause:
The acid can also cause a change in the cells in the esophagus over time. This is called Barretts esophagus. About 10 to 15 percent of people with GERD will develop this condition. Barretts esophagus increases your risk for a type of esophageal cancer known as adenocarcinoma. Experts believe that most cases of this type of esophageal cancer start from cells within Barretts tissue.
Eating certain foods are known to increase the amount of acid in the stomach, which can lead to symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. Avoiding these foods may help to reduce symptoms without taking medications. Examples include:
- alcoholic beverages
Making lifestyle changes such as: