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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Heartburn In Teens
The prominent symptoms of heartburn are burning sensation in the chest or throat and taste of acid or food in the mouth.
The following symptoms are often associated with heartburn :
- Sour taste
- Trouble in swallowing
- Sore throat
Your teen may experience heartburn while lying down or bending after eating. Although heartburn can be associated with a heart attack in adults, it may not apply to teens. This chest discomfort due to acid reflux can be alleviated with some over-the-counter antacids. However, if the problem persists, you may consult a doctor to identify the exact cause and treat it.
What Makes Your Heartburn Worsen Over Time
There are four common reasons for increased heartburn.
Your muscles weaken as you grow older. And that includes one critical to fending off heartburn the lower esophageal sphincter.
Food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. This sphincter controls the opening between the esophagus and the stomach. It typically remains tightly closed except when you swallow food. But as you age, it can weaken and stop functioning properly.
Many older adults carry extra weight that can weaken the sphincter further. And, for reasons that arent entirely clear, the risk and severity of GERD is higher for those who are overweight, Dr. Gabbard says.
As you age, your health problems increase and so does your need for medication.
Some blood pressure and antidepressant medications can cause heartburn. Also opiates, says Dr. Gabbard. Being overweight and taking certain medications may be the major driving factors for heartburn.
With age often comes a hiatal hernia, where the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest cavity.
Sixty percent of people over 60 have a hiatal hernia, Dr. Gabbard says. Most are small and do not cause problems, but the larger ones put you at risk for heartburn.
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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
- bad breath
Why Is My Heartburn Getting Worse
Those who suffer from frequent heartburn can usually see the pain and discomfort coming. For some, heartburn might be triggered by certain types of food, like dairy, or rich foods that are high in fat. For others, its not necessarily the type of food thats consumed, but the amount of food and even the time of day it is consumed. Regardless of what triggers your heartburn, one thing is for sure, heartburn can be quite debilitating for many, and it just happens to get worse the older you get.
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How To Get Rid Of Acid Reflux With Home Remedies
Having Acidity Every Day May Point Towards Acid Reflux Which Requires Your Immediate Attention
Have you experienced a burning sensation that rises from your abdomen and reaches your throat through your chest? This condition is known as heart-burn, or more commonly, acidity.
Most people suffer from acidity occasionally. It mostly happens after consuming a large meal with high fat content, food that increases acidity in the stomach, or after laying down too quickly after eating.
But, if you are reaching out for an antacid every other week, it is a huge red flag. More often than not, when you continue experiencing acidity symptoms on a regular basis, it turns out to be gastroesophageal reflux disease .
It is a condition where acid from the stomach comes up into the food pipe . GERD, when left untreated, can result in serious life-threatening complications, including esophageal cancer.
Here are 7 symptoms that you should definitely watch out for if you have frequent acidity:
1. Frequent Heartburn
If you experience heartburn more than 2 times a week on a regular basis, be assured it is not normal. Starting somewhere in the abdomen and extending to your throat, heartburn is more commonly experienced after taking a meal.
2. Morning Nausea
In GERD, stomach acid goes back to the mouth and esophagus, leading to nausea and a bad, sour taste in the mouth.This commonly happens in the morning, because there’s a long gap between dinner and breakfast the next morning.
3. Chronic Dry Cough
5. Chest Pain
7. Bad Breath
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If You’ve Been Taking Medications For A Long Time
Occasional heartburn is often relieved with a simple antacid. However, if you’ve been devouring antacids for weeks and not seeing results, then see a doctor. You may require a stronger prescription medication.
Prescription medications for heartburn aren’t meant to be lifetime drugs, but many people treat them as such. Obviously, it’s difficult to stop taking something that relieves possible pain. While heartburn medications are generally safe, doctors do warn that there are some long-term side effects that are cause for concern. Because the drugs decrease your gastric acid, your body absorbs far less calcium from your diet than normal. As a result, you could be at a higher risk for experiencing a bone fracture or osteoporosis. While the benefits of staying on the drugs outweigh the risks for frequent heartburn sufferers, those who suffer from heartburn only infrequently should eventually taper off their use.
If severe heartburn occurs in a relatively young person, who faces a lifetime of taking prescription medications, doctors may consider surgery in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the esophageal sphincter to strengthen it. Surgery is not recommended for everyone due to its invasive nature and due to studies that show that it might not be a permanent fix .
Back To Basics: What Is Heartburn
Dont be mad if you already know the definition. We just want to educate you and really make sure everyone understands whats going on in their bodies. So give us a few seconds for the basics before we move to the main part .
Despite its name, heartburn has no connection with your heart, even though it can come with symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. It describes the reaction that happens when the muscles around the bottom of your oesophagus weaken or become too relaxed. If your muscles are not strong enough, acid can escape from the stomach into your food pipe and travel all the way up to your throat and mouth.
This process causes that unpleasant heartburn feeling, which can be treated in various ways. However, if youre not used to experiencing it or feel like the symptoms dont seem to be improving, the whole situation can become more worrying.
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What Is Acid Reflux
Do you ever feel a fiery, tingling sensation at the back of your mouth after eating a heavy meal or spicy foods? What youre feeling is stomach acid or bile flowing back up into your esophagus. This is often accompanied by heartburn, which is characterized by a burning or tightening sensation in the chest behind the breastbone.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience acid reflux at least once per month, and more than 15 million Americans may experience it every day. Though it can occur in anyone, including infants and children, acid reflux is most common in pregnant women, people who are obese, and older adults.
While its normal to experience acid reflux occasionally, those who experience it more than twice per week may have a more serious problem known as gastroesophageal reflux disease . GERD is a chronic form of acid reflux that can irritate the lining of your esophagus, causing it to become inflamed. This inflammation may lead to esophagitis, which is a condition that may make it difficult or painful to swallow. Constant esophageal irritation may also result in bleeding, narrowing of the esophagus, or a precancerous condition called Barretts esophagus.
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. “That may not be true,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “The foods that trigger heartburn are different for everyone.” He suggests keeping a journal to determine which foods cause symptoms.
Some foods and ingredients may intensify heartburn, such as spicy foods, citrus, tomato sauces, and vinegar.
Fatty and fried foods linger longer in the stomach. That may increase stomach pressure and force open the muscles that keep stomach acid out of the esophagus.
Other common heartburn triggers include chocolate, caffeine, onions, peppermint, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.
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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 thats 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 .
Does Heartburn Become More Frequent As You Age
ByFred Cicetti08 February 2010
This Weeks Question: Im getting heartburn a lot since I turned 60. Is more heartburn something that comes with more years?
More than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month and more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn daily. Heartburn is more common among the elderly.
Heartburn two or more times weekly may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. See a doctor if you have heartburn too often. The doctor can test for GERD.
In the upper GI series, you swallow a liquid barium mixture. Then a radiologist watches the barium as it travels down your esophagus and into the stomach. Another test is an endoscopy, in which a small lighted flexible tube is inserted into the esophagus and stomach.
GERD makes stomach acid flow up into your esophagus. There is a valve at the lower end of the esophagus that is designed to keep acid in the stomach. In GERD, the valve relaxes too frequently, which allows acid to reflux, or flow backward.
A hiatal hernia may contribute to GERD. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach is above the diaphragm, which is the muscle wall separating the stomach from the chest. The diaphragm helps the valve keep acid from coming up into the esophagus.
You can control infrequent heartburn by changing your habits and using over-the-counter medicines.
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What Can You Do About Your Heartburn
A good rule of thumb is to seek medical attention if you have more than two episodes of heartburn a week especially if you notice difficulty swallowing, weight loss or anemia, Dr. Gabbard says.
Your doctor may help you lose weight or adjust your medications.
A change in blood pressure medicine may help reduce your heartburn symptoms, for instance. Or your doctor may suggest a proton pump inhibitor such as Prilosec OTC® or Nexium® to help control your GERD.
If your heartburn is worse at night, changing your sleeping position may help. Dr. Gabbard recommends using a body pillow or sleep-positioning device that helps keep you on your left side with your head elevated.
Finally, he has a warning for men over 50 who have chronic heartburn.
If at least two of these conditions apply you are Caucasian, have abdominal obesity, are a former or current smoker you may have a higher risk for Barretts esophagus, a precancerous condition that can lead to esophageal cancer.
Even if you are feeling fine, you should see your doctor. He or she may recommend a one-time scope examination to make sure there are no signs of the condition.
There is no pill to strengthen and restore your sphincter muscle to its younger days. But you can work with your doctor to reduce that burning sensation as you age.
What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease 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.
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Emergency Acid Reflux Symptoms
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WITHDRAWAL OF RANITIDINE
Food and Drug Administration requested that all forms of prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine be removed from the U.S. market. This recommendation was made because unacceptable levels of NDMA, a probable carcinogen , were found in some ranitidine products. If youre prescribed ranitidine, talk with your doctor about safe alternative options before stopping the drug. If youre taking OTC ranitidine, stop taking the drug and talk with your healthcare provider about alternative options. Instead of taking unused ranitidine products to a drug take-back site, dispose of them according to the products instructions or by following the FDAs
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 are listed below:
- Cold sweat
- 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. Its a different sensation than vomiting, but severe heartburn can also cause you to vomit. If youre not sure if youre experiencing heartburn or a heart attack, seek immediate medical care.
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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 keep acid under control much better.
Sometimes a germ calledHelicobacter 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.