Reasons Not To Ignore Heartburn Symptoms
For most Americans, heartburn is just an occasional problem. Sixty million people get it at least once a month.
But for the 19 million people who have a chronic form of heartburn known as gastroesophageal reflux disease , untreated symptoms can lead to a variety of health complications.
If you experience frequent or extended heartburn , see your doctor. Here are nine reasons why you shouldnt ignore signs of GERD.
EsophagitisIn GERD, food, acid and digestive juices flow back into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Over time, this causes irritation and swelling, known as esophagitis. “If you have acid exposure in the esophagus for even as little as a few weeks, you can develop inflammation of the lining,” says Anish Sheth, M.D., assistant professor of digestive diseases at Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven Conn. “It can be very uncomfortable, even painful, and can leave the esophagus vulnerable to even more harmful erosion or scarring.”
Esophageal strictureIf esophagitis goes on too long, scar tissue can narrow the esophagus. Called a stricture, this can make it hard or painful to swallow. Large pieces of food can get stuck and may require endoscopy to remove them. You may also be at risk of choking, and you can lose too much weight if you avoid food and drinks because of a stricture.
Work with your doctor, who may consider lung function when treating reflux.
Can Gerd Cause Asthma
We dont know the exact relationship between GERD and asthma. More than 75% of people with asthma have GERD. They are twice as likely to have GERD as people without asthma. GERD may make asthma symptoms worse, and asthma drugs may make GERD worse. But treating GERD often helps to relieve asthma symptoms.
The symptoms of GERD can injure the lining of the throat, airways and lungs, making breathing difficult and causing a persistent cough, which may suggest a link. Doctors mostly look at GERD as a cause of asthma if:
- Asthma begins in adulthood.
- Asthma symptoms get worse after a meal, exercise, at night and after lying down.
- Asthma doesnt get better with standard asthma treatments.
If you have asthma and GERD, your healthcare provider can help you find the best ways to handles both conditions the right medications and treatments that wont aggravate symptoms of either disease.
What Are The Main Symptoms Of Gerd
The main symptoms are persistent heartburn and acid regurgitation. Some people have GERD without heartburn. Instead, they experience pain in the chest, hoarseness in the morning or trouble swallowing. You may feel like you have food stuck in your throat, or like you are choking or your throat is tight. GERD can also cause a dry cough and bad breath.
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How Long Heartburn Lasts
Heartburn can last anywhere from several minutes to a few hours, depending on the underlying cause.
For example, after eating a spicy meal, mild heartburn can last for as long as it takes to digest the food but the symptoms may reoccur a few hours after youve eaten, when you lie down in bed at night or when bending over.
Bending over allows gravity to help pull the acid from the stomach, potentiating the severity of heartburn symptoms. The symptoms often awaken a person during the night, while sleeping.
Occasional heartburn goes away on its own and can often be prevented by avoiding certain foods . But when heartburn is severe, it usually requires medical treatment.
Frequent/constant Heartburn Or Heartburn Everyday
If you have frequent or constant heartburn , you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease . GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter , a muscle that connects the esophagus and the stomach. If you have constant heartburn, you should schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist.
When working properly, the LES serves as a barrier that prevents digestive acid from the stomach from leaking into the esophagus. However, if the LES is weakened or malfunctioning, stomach acid can reach the esophagus and cause repeated bouts of heartburn. Over time, GERD may damage your esophagus, or lead to a serious complication called Barrettâs esophagus. In Barrettâs esophagus, repeated exposure to stomach acid causes changes to esophageal cells. These damaged cells can transform into esophageal adenocarcinoma, a potentially fatal cancer.
If GERD is suspected, your doctor may perform an endoscopy, a procedure in which a lighted scope is inserted into the esophagus, to examine the digestive tract.
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Why You Should Never Ignore Gerd
After several years, untreated GERD erodes the lining of the esophagus, and as a protective mechanism, the esophagus starts to create a new lining with cells that resemble the makeup of the intestine. At this stage, GERD has progressed into a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, bringing with it a 30-fold increased risk of eventually developing esophageal cancer.
Esophageal cancer is deadly — only about 15% of people are still alive five years after being diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. And it’s more common among individuals who have long suffered from GERD that is not properly treated.
According to a study published in TheNew England Journal of Medicine, cancer of the esophagus was nearly eight times as likely among people who suffered from heartburn at least once a week, and almost 44 times as likely in those who had severe, frequent heartburn for more than 20 years. Almost all of these people had only sporadic treatment for GERD, not long-term treatment.
If you have GERD, and you are having any of these symptoms, tell your doctor right away:
- If difficulty swallowing or a feeling like food is trapped behind the breastbone becomes a new symptom of your GERD.
- If you vomit blood or have black, tarry bowel movements.
- If you have the sensation of acid reflux into the windpipe causing shortness of breath, coughing, or hoarseness.
- If you lose weight unexpectedly or without trying.
Avoid Spicy Foods And Keep Some Dazzle In Your Diet With Low
The fiery feeling of heartburn is the last way you want to remember a great meal. But when your doctor says you have chronic heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease , you may worry that a bland and disappointing menu is in your future. But the foods that trigger your heartburn may or may not be on the usual lists. Thats why keeping a journal to determine which foods cause symptoms helps.
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Pharmacy First Scotland: Indigestion Treatment From Your Pharmacy
If you have symptoms of indigestion you can get treatment directly from a pharmacy. Find your local pharmacy on Scotland’s Service Directory.
Most people will not need to seek medical advice for their indigestion. However, your pharmacist may advise you see your GP if you have recurring indigestion and any of the following apply:
- you are 55 years old or over
- you have lost a lot of weight without meaning to
- you have increasing difficulty swallowing
- you have persistent vomiting
- you have a lump in your stomach
- you have blood in your vomit or blood in your stools
This is because these symptoms may be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as a stomach ulcer or stomach cancer. You may need to be referred for an endoscopy to rule out any serious cause.
An endoscopy is a procedure where the inside of the body is examined using an endoscope .
Severe indigestion can cause long-term problems with parts of your digestive tract, such as scarring of the oesophagus or the passage from your stomach. Read more about the possible complications of severe indigestion.
Treatment For Heartburn And Acid Reflux From A Gp
If you have acid reflux, a GP may prescribe a medicine called a proton pump inhibitor that reduces how much acid your stomach makes.
You’ll usually need to take this type of medicine for 4 or 8 weeks, depending on how serious your acid reflux is.
Go back to the GP if your symptoms return after stopping your medicine. You may need a long-term prescription.
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What Are Gerd Symptoms
Obviously, heartburn is the main symptom, and its generally worse at night. Not sure if you have GERD? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my heartburn make it difficult to sleep?
- Do I have swallowing problems?
- Do I sometimes spit up food or sour liquid?
- Do I feel a lump in my throat?
- Have I had a chronic cough or laryngitis with my heartburn?
- Do I have chest pain?
Wed like to take a minute to elaborate on one of those symptoms: chest pain. You should always seek immediate medical care if you have chest pain, especially if its accompanied by jaw pain, shortness of breath or arm pain. These could be signs of a heart attack.
When To See A Gastroenterologist
Sometimes its difficult to know when your symptoms are severe enough that you need to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist, and we understand that. Here are some indications that its time to call a gastroenterologist:
- Symptoms that continue for more than two weeks
- Heartburn that persists after taking over-the-counter medications
- Heartburn episodes that change in frequency or intensity
- Nighttime symptoms that affect your sleep quality
- Acid reflux that interferes with your daily activities or affects your quality of life
- Unexplained weight loss or decreased appetite
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Heartburn accompanied by nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic hoarseness or wheezing
If you experience any of the symptoms above, its time to see one of our gastroenterologists. After performing a complete medical exam, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you undergo an upper endoscopy to evaluate your symptoms and see if you have suffered any damage to your esophagus, or provide you with the peace of mind that everything is all right. During your visit, the doctor will examine the lining of your esophagus, stomach and duodenum to determine the cause of your digestive symptoms and the appropriate treatment.
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Is There Surgery To Treat Gerd
GERD is usually controlled with medications and lifestyle changes . If these dont work, or if you cant take medications for an extended period, surgery may be a solution.
- Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is the standard surgical treatment. Its 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 around the lower portion of the esophagus. This reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter so food wont reflux back into the esophagus.
- LINX deviceimplantation 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.
When To See A Doctor
Untreated heartburn could even lead to serious conditions such as Barretts esophagusa rare condition that can develop in the setting of long-standing GERDwhich could be a precursor to cancer. Its important to seek a consultation with a healthcare provider when experiencing the following:
- Heartburn that does not subside
- Heartburn that worsens
- Difficulty swallowing
- Heartburn that causes vomiting
- A substantial, unexplained level of weight loss
- Heartburn symptoms that persist even after taking over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks
- Heartburn symptoms that persist even after taking prescription medications
- Severe hoarseness or wheezing
- Discomfort from heartburn that interferes with daily activities
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When To See Your Doctor
The suggestions set out above are just some of the changes you could make to reduce the symptoms of heartburn, and the list is not exhaustive. If you still feel no relief after following them, you should definitely consult your doctor.
The following situations should encourage you to make a doctors appointment as soon as possible:
- severe signs: if youre experiencing severe signs of heartburn , seek medical help to make sure the exposure to stomach acid doesnt cause irreparable harm to your body
- uncertainty: talk to a professional if youre not sure whether youre actually experiencing heartburn, as there are some other conditions with overlapping symptoms that point to serious complications
- frequent GERD: if you experience the symptoms of GERD several times a week then see your doctor immediately, even if the symptoms are mild
- regular use of over-the-counter medications: being a regular user of over-the-counter antacids or other medications can be dangerous, as they will only neutralise your symptoms but cannot heal the actual inflammation that causes them
- no relief after medication: if you still have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, discuss the matter with your doctor to see where the problem is
- problems engaging in your daily activities: if frequent or chronic heartburn symptoms are interfering with your daily activities, seek professional help to get your life back on track.
Your Heartburn Feels More Severe Than Usual
Almost everyone has heartburn from time to time, but if you have a particularly severe episode of it, you should bypass making a doctor’s appointment and head straight for the hospital. The chest pain that comes with heartburn is often very similar to a heart attack, so don’t write off a persistent or acute ache as heartburn. A heart attack is usually differentiated from heartburn by shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness, but when in doubt, head to the hospital.
Complicating the matter, certain medications taken by those with cardiac issues often bring on acid reflux or heartburn. Calcium channel blockers, which decrease blood pressure, and nitrates, used for coronary artery disease, can cause acid reflux. If you suspect that a heart medication is bringing on heartburn or acid reflux, speak to your doctor before making any changes to your meds or diet.
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Heartburn Every Day For Two Weeks
out however I have a 1 year old and I did not get any cravings or symptoms but this time around I throw up 3 times every other day and have bad acid reflux this pregnancy is just going horrible.
the heartburn is done for at least a few hours.
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Heartburn is a burning sensation behind the breast bone, usually caused by acid and/or bile reflux. It is a common symptom however if you.
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Mild heartburn occurs about once a month. Moderate heartburn occurs about once a week. Severe heartburn occurs every day. It can cause problems such as bleeding.
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Prescription omeprazole is used to treat damage from GERD in.
heartburn in adults.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Indigestion
When you have indigestion, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:
- pain, a burning feeling, or discomfort in your upper abdomen
- feeling full too soon while eating a meal
- feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal
- burping up food or liquid
- loud growling or gurgling in your stomach
Sometimes when you have indigestion, you may also have heartburn. However, heartburn and indigestion are two separate conditions.
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When Heartburn Gets Serious
Ignoring heartburn — just putting up with it, popping a few pills day after day — isn’t necessarily the best plan. There are complications that can result from letting the problem linger.
“When heartburn is not appropriately treated, acid reflux can cause erosion and ulcers in the lining of the esophagus,” says William C. Orr, PhD, a clinical professor of medicine and specialist in gastrointestinal disorders at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
“It’s extremely painful and greatly affects the patient’s lifestyle,” he tells WebMD. “It really alters very significantly the quality of life.”
Long-term acid reflux can cause scarring and narrowing in the esophagus, which can also lead to swallowing difficulties, Radhika Srinivasan, MD, a gastrointestinal specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, tells WebMD.
This condition, called esophageal strictures, can interfere with eating and drinking by preventing food and liquid from reaching the stomach. Strictures are treated by dilation, in which an instrument gently stretches the strictures and expands the opening in the esophagus.
In fairly rare cases, chronic acid reflux can also cause a pre-cancerous condition called “Barrett’s esophagus,” she adds. Barrett’s esophagus is a result of the chronic acid reflux into the esophagus causing dangerous changes in the cells that line the esophagus — these cells can become cancerous.
Are There Any Tests For Heartburn
If it is obvious from the symptoms that a person has heartburn, no tests or exams may be necessary. Advice in regard to lifestyle modifications, diet, or medications may begin immediately.
If your health care professional is not sure about the diagnosis, or if he or she is concerned about damage done by chronic heartburn, tests may be ordered. This is true especially if the patient has already been prescribed medications that are not relieving the heartburn.
There is no simple blood test for heartburn. The tests used to diagnose heartburn include the following:
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