The Most Common Symptoms Are:
- General discomfort in the stomach
- Feeling uncomfortably full during or after eating
- Stomach pain
When youre pregnant, you are more likely to have indigestion due to:
- Hormonal changes that your body is going through
- Your growing womb pressing on your stomach
- The relaxing of the lower esophageal sphincter that acts like a gate between your stomach and your esophagus, allowing stomach acid to leak back up
You may be more likely to get indigestion in pregnancy if:
- You had indigestion before you were pregnant
- You have been pregnant before
- You are in the latter stages of pregnancy
In the case of indigestion in pregnancy it usually lasts until the birth.
Ways To Reduce Your Reflux Risk
A Harvard research team recently reported that many people could avoid this misery by adhering to an anti-reflux lifestyle. The researchers analyzed periodic health surveys over 12 years from more than 40,000 nurses and identified five lifestyle characteristics that helped keep acid reflux at bay.
The more of these behaviors the nurses adhered to, the lower their risk of developing GERD, the popular acronym for gastroesophageal reflux disease, the most persistent and potentially serious form of acid reflux. Following all five behaviors reduced the overall risk of developing GERD symptoms by 37 percent.
Why Does It Happen In Pregnancy
Many women who have heartburn during pregnancy have never had problems before. Unfortunately, if you had heartburn before becoming pregnant, youre more likely to have symptoms while you are pregnant. Although the exact reasons arent clear, most experts believe that pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, play a role. Hormones cause relaxation of the esophageal sphincter. This is a tight circular band of muscle at the top of the stomach. This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer. The pregnancy itselfthe upward pressure of the growing uterusalso may play a role.
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Things To Stop Doing If You Have Gerd
When you suffer from chronic heartburn that can be associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease , this condition can affect your entire life. It may be necessary to stop eating some of your favorite foods. The heartburn may interfere with your sleep. It may even interfere with your availability to work well.
What Otc And Prescription Drugs Are Available To Treat Gerd
Antacids and how they work
Antacids work by neutralizing acid and coating the stomach. Antacids should be taken 1 hour after meals or when gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms occur. Liquid antacids usually work faster than tablets or chewables. If symptoms occur soon after meals, they should be taken before the meal.
Antacids are useful because they relieve symptoms rapidly. But relief is only temporary. Over-the-counter antacids do not prevent symptoms from returning or rarely allow an injured esophagus to heal. If you need antacids for more than 2 weeks, talk with your health-care professional to get a better diagnosis of your condition and appropriate investigation and treatment.
Most varieties of antacids you can buy without a prescription are combinations of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. Antacids containing these ingredients may produce unwanted diarrhea or constipation. Antacids containing calcium carbonate are the most potent in neutralizing stomach acid. Popular brands are Tums and Titralac.
When taking antacids, follow label instructions and do not take more than the recommended daily dose. Take antacids before or after meals and at bedtime – or when you have symptoms.
Always tell your health-care professional about your antacid use.
What if lifestyle changes and antacids don’t work?
Acid blockers for GERD
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Diagnosing H Pylori Infection
If your GP thinks that your symptoms may be due to an infection with H pylori bacteria, you may need to have a test for it, such as:
- a stool antigen test a pea-sized stool sample will be tested for H pylori bacteria
- a breath test
- a blood test a blood sample will be tested for antibodies to H pylori bacteria
Antibiotics and PPIs can affect the results of a urea breath test or a stool antigen test. Therefore, these tests may need to be delayed until two weeks after you last used a PPI, and four weeks after you last used an antibiotic.
What Can Trigger Heartburn
Heartburn can be triggered by many different things that are a part of your daily life. For many people, heartburn can be caused by certain eating and lifestyle habits. These habits can involve things like eating large portions of food, eating too close to bedtime or even having high stress levels.
Certain foods and drinks can also trigger heartburn for some people. Some foods and drinks that could trigger your heartburn can include:
- Caffeinated beverages.
- Carbonated beverages.
Your lifestyle habits can also play a part in why you might experience heartburn. These everyday factors often contribute to medical conditions that cause heartburn, like GERD or hiatal hernia. Some lifestyle habits that can trigger your heartburn include:
- Being overweight.
- Having a high stress level.
- Wearing tight clothes and belts.
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What Does Indigestion Feel Like
Indigestion medical term dyspepsia is a collection of symptoms, and heartburn is just one of them. Heartburn is also its own distinct symptom related to stomach acid. Indigestion, on the other hand, isnt related to stomach acid.
Indigestion is often connected to emotional health and state of mind feeling stressed, nervous, or anxious seems to trigger bouts of indigestion, while feeling relaxed tends to prevent them.
Something Doesn’t Feel Right Shall I See My Doctor
Yes, absolutely. This applies to both chronic reflux and emergency situations.
If you suspect GERD please speak to your doctor to be treated. This is because if you have GERD, it can cause serious complications:
- Laryngitis – Typically this takes 2 weeks to recover assuming no further irritation by stomach acid.
- Esophagitis – With potent acid suppression this can take 2-8 weeks to heal.
- Ulcers – These can potentially perforate if untreated.
- Strictures – Chronic inflammation can lead to scar tissue that restricts digestive flow.
- Swallowing problems- This can lead to difficulty eating and drinking and cause weight loss
- Pre-cancerous changes to the esophageal lining – These may become cancerous.
If you have symptoms that make you suspect something more sinister is going on, such as a heart attack, go to the emergency department of a hospital:
- The heartburn is worse or unusual
- Your chest pain is severe which could be with a squeezing, tightening or crushing quality
- Other additional symptoms you may experience include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain that radiates to other areas of the upper body
Other conditions may also need to be ruled out by a doctor.
- An alternative cluster of symptoms could be:
- bloody or dark stools
- black/ coffee ground like vomit
You need to call 911 in this case as you may have had an ulcer such as a peptic ulcer bleed.
Treating Heartburn During Pregnancy
Check with your doctor before taking any OTC medications for heartburn. If you get the green light, make sure to follow both the doctors and the package directions and dont overuse.
Liquid antacids may provide greater relief than other kinds, since they coat the stomach. Talk to your doctor about which treatments are best for you.
The following home remedies may also help:
- Warm milk with honey may soothe your stomach and reduce heartburn symptoms.
- Resist the urge to lie down after eating and take a stroll, instead.
- When you do sleep, try using your pregnancy pillow underneath your body from the waist up. This elevates your upper body while providing cushioning.
A Pharmacist Can Help With Indigestion
A pharmacist can recommend medicines to ease the burning feeling or pain that can come with indigestion.
Medicines that help reduce acid in your stomach include:
- proton pump inhibitors
Some indigestion medicines are best to take after eating as their effects last longer. Check the information leaflet that comes with the medicines for more information.
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Are There Potential Complications With Acid Reflux Symptoms
Usually, acid reflux symptoms cause no complications. In a few cases, continued esophageal damage can lead to scarring, which may cause the esophagus to narrow. The narrowing creates strictures and makes it difficult to swallow. You may have dysphagia, a sensation that food is stuck in your esophagus. In some cases, normal cells in the lining of the esophagus may be replaced by a different type of cell. This is called Barrett’s esophagus, which can sometimes develop into cancer.
What Causes Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is caused by weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter . Normally this valve closes tightly after food enters your stomach. If it relaxes when it shouldnt, 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 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.
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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.
What Makes It Better
For most women, things that help reduce acid production or prevent reux are helpful in avoiding the discomfort of heartburn. Here are tips that may help:
Avoid classic spicy foods, as well as those with lots of fat or grease. Many people recommend avoiding citrus and chocolate, as well.
Eat multiple, small meals spread throughout the day, much like grazing, instead of three big meals.
Try elevating the head of your bed by several inches, and wait a while after eating before going to bed or lying down.
Some women find that its better to drink fluids between meals, rather than with a meal. This can increase the amount of contents in the stomach.
If your symptoms do not improve after the above recommended diet and lifestyle changes are in place, talk with your healthcare provider about over-the-counter medicines. Antacids are available as chewable tablets and liquids. They work by coating the lining of the esophagus and stomach and neutralizing stomach acid. Heartburn medicines called H2-blockers work by reducing the amount of acid made by your stomach. Although most of these are considered safe in pregnancy, as with all medicines, these should be avoided in the first trimester.
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Key Points About Heartburn
- Heartburn is marked by a painful burning or feeling of discomfort in the upper chest or throat, usually after eating.
- Heartburn occurs when acid from your stomach backtracks into the esophagus.
- This process can be caused by alcohol, spicy or acidic foods, overeating, or an underlying medical condition such as GERD.
- GERD is a digestive disorder in which the muscle between the esophagus and stomach is compromised, leading contents from the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus.
- The primary symptom of GERD is heartburn.
- Lifestyle changes and medications can mitigate heartburn.
It May Be Due To Your Medication
Acid reflux could be a side-effect of the medication you currently take. Certain medication used to treat high blood pressure have been known to induce acid reflux symptoms. The birth control pill has also been implicated. While not a medication, smoking is a form of chemical exposure that is known for relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, leading to acid reflux.
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Is My Heartburn A Disease
Heartburn can be experienced by virtually anyone. It could occur due to foods you eat or be a consequence of obesity. The duration at which you experience these symptoms pushes the diagnosis of acid reflux into disease territory. Occasional acid reflux symptoms are easily remedied with lifestyle changes. However, more serious cases of acid reflux that occur over long periods of time arent as easy to take care of.
When acid reflux goes beyond a general feeling of discomfort and is present after nearly every meal, more drastic measures need to be taken. This often means the use of over-the-counter or prescribed medication to decrease the production of stomach acid.
How Long Indigestion Lasts In Other Cases Depends Upon Dealing With The Causes
Heartburn, and how long it lasts, is not necessarily a function of what you eat or drink!
Chronic heartburn is actually a disease its full name is Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.
It is not that uncommon some 20 million Americans live with this condition every day.GERD is a condition in which acid from the stomach flows backward, or refluxes, into the esophagus. The esophagus is the long tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Inside your body, a valve at the lower end of the esophagus keeps acid in the stomach and out of the esophagus. Sometimes this valve relaxes too much and allows stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus.
The feeling is like a burning chest pain which begins behind the breastbone and moves upward to the neck and throat, frequently leaving an acid or bitter taste.
The burning pain can last as long as 2 hours and is usually worse after eating. The pain is caused by too much stomach acid coming into contact with the lining of the esophagus lining.
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How Common Is Gerd
GERD is very common. The condition and its symptoms touch a huge number of people: 20% of the U.S. population.
Anyone of any age can develop GERD, but some may be more at risk for it. For example, the chances youll have some form of GERD increase after age 40.
Youre also more likely to have it if youre:
- Overweight or obese.
- Smoking or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Taking certain medications that may cause acid reflux.
Just How Fast Can The Symptoms Of Gerd Present Themselves Once The Acid Starts Making Its Way Up The Esophagus
Does GERD unfold slowly and with stealth?
Or can its symptoms suddenly come out of the blue?
GERD can begin very suddenly, says Alan Gingold, DO, a board certified gastroenterologist with the Digestive Healthcare Center of NJ.
GERD is the movement of stomach contents into the esophagus. Heartburn is a symptom of GERD and occurs in about 50% of people.
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When Should I Call The Doctor With Acid Reflux Symptoms
Be sure to call your doctor if you don’t get lasting relief from medications. Also call the doctor right away if you have any “alarm” acid reflux symptoms, such as these:
- Black, tarry, or maroon-colored stools
- Difficulty or pain with swallowing
Other acid reflux symptoms that should prompt a call to your doctor include:
- Asthma-like symptoms, such as wheezing or dry cough
- Hoarseness, especially in the morning
- Hiccups that don’t let up
- Nausea that lasts for more than a day or two
Sometimes, people confuse the symptoms of heart attack with symptoms of acid reflux disease. That’s because pain in the chest can feel like heartburn. When in doubt, call your doctor.
Call 911 if you have any of these symptoms of heart attack:
- Chest pain, pressure, or fullness lasting more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
- Pain or discomfort in your neck, shoulder, upper back, or jaw
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea
When To Seek Care
- Have heartburn several times a week
- Experience reflux symptoms that get in the way of sleep
- Get a newly developed cough
- Experience nausea or vomiting
- Have symptoms that dont improve with home remedies or over-the counter antacids
Seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing sweating, shortness of breath, or arm or jaw pain in addition to severe chest pain or pressure.
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Is There A Cure For Heartburn
There are many over the counter remedies which deal with the symptoms and eliminate the burning feeling.
To deal with the causes, you need to do the following:
- Avoid foods and beverages like chocolate, coffee, alcohol and soda as they can relax the valve.
- Avoid peppermint, greasy, spicy or tomato based foods.
- Stop smoking! Tobacco causes less saliva to form and saliva helps against stomach acid. Tobacco may also increase stomach acid.
- If you are overweight, go on a diet.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day rather than two large ones.
- Do not eat 2-3 hours before sleeping.
- Elevate the head of your bed by 6-10 inches.
- Dont wear tight-fitting clothing and belts.
When Do Acid Reflux Symptoms Occur
Acid reflux symptoms most often occur:
- After eating a heavy meal
- When bending over or lifting an object
- When lying down, especially on your back
People who have frequent acid reflux symptoms most often experience them at night. Nighttime GERD also produces the most pain. However, the level of pain does not always indicate the degree of damage to your esophagus.
More than half of all pregnant women experience heartburn during pregnancy. Increased hormones and pressure from a growing fetus can combine to produce this acid reflux symptom. In most cases, heartburn improves or completely goes away after delivery.
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