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.
What Kinds Of Complications Are Caused By Frequent Heartburn
- Excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, damage to the inner layers of the esophageal wall, and narrowing .
- Very rarely, the esophagus may bleed or tear completely because it is so damaged. In severe cases, a person may vomit blood or have small amounts of blood in bowel movements, found only on testing the stool.
- Regurgitated stomach acid can damage the respiratory tract, causing asthma, hoarseness, chronic cough, sore throat, or tooth damage . A person may feel as if he or she has a lump in the throat.
- If the acid exposure continues for long periods of time, the esophagus becomes thick and damaged. A person may then have difficulty swallowing and food becomes stuck.
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.
Also Check: Bloated After Eating Salad
What Lifestyle Changes Relieve Heartburn
There are several ways to treat and avoid heartburn with lifestyle changes .
Lose weight and maintain your ideal weight. Excess weight increases the pressure on the stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux into the esophagus.
Avoid foods that aggravate heartburn and replace them with healthy foods. Avoid foods that trigger heartburn . Consider keeping a food journal to alert you to foods that make your heartburn worse. Decrease the amount of food you eat.
Elevate the head of the bed: If you are experiencing heartburn at night, elevating the head of the bed will decrease reflux.
How Long Does Acid Reflux Last
To answer this question simply, it needs to be stated that there is no particular time that can be pre-determined as to how long acid reflux problems will last. While elaborating this, it can be said that as soon as the acidity reduces or the stomach acids stop irritating the esophagus, larynx and pharynx, the problem will subside.
Since the mechanism of acid reflux is the irritation of throat and esophagus tissue due to the acidic nature of the stomach juices, consuming antacids can work fast in reducing, as well as treating the condition. The antacids reduce the pH value of these stomach acids that move up towards the esophagus and throat in case of acid reflux or gastro-esophageal reflux disease . Thus, it loses its acidity and become neutralized.
Hence, it can be said that as soon as you feel that you have got an acid reflux and you take an antacid, your problem will gradually subside. However, on an average, the condition lasts for about 2 hours in most cases. It can last for a longer period if spicy foods, fatty foods, carbonated drinks, alcohol and citrus foods and drinks are consumed during an acid reflux. Even going to bed or staying in a lying position before or within 2 to 3 hours of eating or without treating the condition will contribute in lasting the condition longer.
Read Also: Ibs And Lettuce
Exact Answer: 2 Minutes To 2 Hours
Heartburn is irritability of the esophagus that is the tubing that attaches our throat to our stomach. Mainly caused by the acids present in the stomach which leads to a burning sensation or discomfort in our upper belly or below the sternum. Despite its name, heartburn has nothing related to the heart. But some of the symptoms might be close to that of a heart attack or heart disorder.
Why Would Heartburn Last That Long
Heartburn symptoms can begin because of an issue with a muscular valve named LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter, located at the meeting point of the esophagus and the stomach below the rib cage and slightly left to the center.
Usually, the LES keeps the acid in the stomach. When its functioning correctly, the LES opens to allow food into the stomach, then closes again. But if the LES opens far too often or does not close tight sufficiently, stomach acids can seep into the esophagus and cause burning or irritation.
Also, if the LES loosens or weakens, stomach acid might seep back up into the esophagus, also called acid reflux, and cause heartburn. The acid reflux can be even worse when one is bent over or lying down.
Heartburn that occurs occasionally and interrupts our routine is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Or GERD. GERD treatment may need prescription medicines and, infrequently, surgery. GERD can severely harm the esophagus or direct to pre-cancerous alterations in the esophagus, which is called Barretts esophagus.
If the LES does not stay tightened as it should be, there are usually two elements that add to the problem. First is overeating, which puts excessive food in the stomach, and second is too much pressure on the stomach, mainly due to obesity or pregnancy. Some foods can ease the LES or raise stomach acids, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, or caffeinated items.
You May Like: Do Probiotics Make You Bloated
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.
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.
Read Also: How Do You Pronounce Microbiome
Differences Between Symptoms Of Heartburn And Heart Attack
It can sometimes be difficult to know if symptoms are due to a heart attack or heartburn. Doctors often find making a diagnosis based on symptoms alone difficult and rely on tests.
Sometimes even doctors can find their symptoms difficult to understand. A doctor at Harvard, for example, has told his story of heart disease.
He had a burning symptom in his upper belly whenever he exercised, but treatments for heartburn did not help.
It was not until he became breathless and unable to carry on that he sought medical help. Tests revealed heart disease that was close to causing a heart attack.
The main difference between symptoms is that:
- Heartburn tends to be worse after eating and when lying down, but a heart attack can happen after a meal, too.
- Heartburn can be relieved by drugs that reduce acid levels in the stomach.
- Heartburn does not cause more general symptoms, such as breathlessness.
- Heart attack does not cause bloating or belching, but these can happen with heartburn.
following symptoms should call 911 at once:
- Chest pain or discomfort, such as pressure, squeezing, pain, or fullness that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back again
- Pain or discomfort in other parts of the body, for example, one or both arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
- Shortness of breath, before or with chest discomfort
- Cold sweat
- Other signs: Feeling unusually tired
All these symptoms can affect both men and women, but:
When To Seek Medical Attention
While mild heartburn on occasion is perfectly normal, it can be problematic if it begins to occur on a regular basis or if symptoms become more severe. If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, or if its beginning to negatively affect your day-to-day life, then it may be time to seek out professional help.
Contact a doctor if youve been experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain related to heartburn
- Extreme stomach pain
- Difficulty swallowing food or pills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Persistent sensation of a lump in your throat
- Chronic hoarseness or wheezing
- Chest pain accompanied by pain in the neck, jaw, arms, or legs
- Consistent diarrhea or bloody bowel movements
Additionally, if your heartburn symptoms persist despite using over-the-counter medication for two weeks or longer, then it may be a good idea to seek out other forms of medical treatment. If youve been suffering from severe symptoms and OTC heartburn and acid reflux medications are not working, then you may need prescription medication to quell your symptoms.
- A tightness, pressure, or sharp pain in the center or left side of the chest
- Pain that spreads to the jaw, neck, or back
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness of sudden dizziness
Also Check: Does Heartburn Cause Sore Throat
The Four Stages Of Gerd And Treatment Options
Reflux disease is a chronic and progressive condition. Treatment options depend on the disease stage. The disease stage is determined by the severity of reflux into the esophagus. This in turns depends on how frequent and how long are the reflux episodes. The longer and the more frequent acid reflux episodes are the more significant is the damage to the esophagus. GERD is also associated with a spectrum of symptoms that ranges from mild heartburn to severe chest pain mimicking a heart attack. GERD treatment options are highly dependent upon an individuals GERD stage.
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
Read Also: Why Does My Stomach Feel Tight And Bloated
What Complications Can Gerd Cause
The acid produced by your stomach is strong. If your esophagus is exposed to it too much, you could develop esophagitis, an irritation of the lining of your esophagus.
You could also get reflux laryngitis, a voice disorder that makes you hoarse and leaves you feeling that you have a lump in your throat.
Abnormal cells could grow in your esophagus, a condition called Barretts esophagus, which can, in rare cases, lead to cancer.
And your esophagus could be scarred, forming esophageal strictures that limit your ability to eat and drink the way you used to.
Frequency Is A Determining Factor In Gerd Diagnosis
Many people all across the world can occasionally suffer from a case of acid reflux. In most of these instances, the symptoms of acid reflux can go away on their own. However, if symptoms of acid reflux occur multiple times during a single week, it might be a sign that youre experiencing GERD. GERD is defined as frequent acid reflux. The symptoms of GERD can range in severity and can include nausea, vomiting, or burping. Sustained acid reflux can cause other issues to occur in the body, such as ulcers and even an increased risk of cancer. Most cases of GERD can be solved by changes in your diet or lifestyle, but talk to a doctor in order to determine the correct solution for you and your body.;
Recommended Reading: How To Relieve Bloating Pain
Symptoms Of Acid Reflux You Should Not Ignore
It’s estimated that 60 to 70 million people in the U.S. are affected by a digestive disease. While that includes everything from chronic constipation to inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis, research shows that acid reflux is the most commonly diagnosed of all. And whether it’s due to a physiological reason or the fact that women are more diligent about visiting the doctor, women are diagnosed with GI conditionsincluding acid refluxmore often than men.
The proper name for acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux . GER happens when your stomach’s contents move back up toward your esophagus, causing an array of uncomfortable symptoms. It’s extremely common for anyone to experience this on occasion, according to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. But if it happens regularlymore than twice a week for a few weeksit could be a sign that you have a chronic condition called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD affects 20 percent of the U.S. population. It’s caused by a malfunction in the lower esophageal sphincter . The LES is supposed to close after allowing food to pass through to the stomach, but when it doesn’t, stomach acid can flow back up where it’s not supposed to be. Over time, GERD can cause damage to the esophagus, including precancerous changes, or lead to respiratory problems like pneumonia, laryngitis, and asthma, so it’s important to get treated.
Other Causes Of Chest Pain
Heart attack and heartburn arent the only causes of chest pain, but they are some of the most likely ones. Other potential symptoms include:
- Anxiety attack. Severe bouts of anxiety can cause panicked feelings that may make you feel as if youre dying. Other symptoms include shortness of breath and intense fear.
- Esophageal muscle spasm. Some people have an esophagus that tightens or spasms. If this occurs, a person can have pain and discomfort, such as chest pain.
- Gallbladder pain. The gallbladder is responsible for releasing bile that the body uses to digest fats. It can become blocked or diseased, causing symptoms like pain in the shoulders, arms, and neck as well as nausea and vomiting.
- Pleurisy. This condition is an inflammation of the tissues in the chest wall, often due to intense coughing or inflammation from an infection.
You May Like: How To Cure Leaky Gut Fast
What Do I Do If I Think I Have Gerd
With GERD when reflux and heartburn happen more than once in a while the tissue lining your esophagus is getting battered regularly with stomach acid. Eventually the tissue becomes damaged. If you have this chronic acid reflux and heartburn you can see its affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.
When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isnt life-threatening in itself, its chronic inflammation of the esophagus can lead to something more serious. You may need stronger prescription medications or even surgery to ease your symptoms.
Take A Proactive Approach
That’s why, if you have had heartburn or acid reflux consistently for longer than three years, you should have an endoscopy, says Brown. An endoscopy is a simple procedure where a specially designed scope is used to examine the esophagus and take tissue samples, when necessary.
“The tissue samples or biopsies are examined to look for any abnormal cell growth,” Brown explains. “The hope is that we’ll be able to catch any abnormal cells before they become cancerous.
Patients who are diagnosed with Barrett’s typically undergo repeat endoscopies one year and three years later. If precancerous cells are seen at that point, treatment may involve surgical removal of the esophagus to prevent eventual progression to cancer.
But a technique available at Rush, the HALO Ablation System, enables doctors to use radiofrequency ablation to remove Barrett’s tissue completely, without invasive surgery and with relatively few complications.
“HALO ablation has shown to be an effective alternative to surgery in select patients,” says Brown. “However, the good news is that most patients with Barrett’s will never progress to the point that they require this level of intervention.”
Read Also: How To Know If Your Microbiome Is Healthy