Friday, June 14, 2024

What Causes Heartburn And Reflux

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What Are Prescription Medications For Heartburn

The Real Causes of Acid Reflux, Heartburn & GERD Dr.Berg

If over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers do not relieve your heartburn, your healthcare provider may give you a prescription for other medicines, such as:

  • Prescription-strength acid blockers: In prescription-strength , Zantac®, Tagamet®, Pepcid® and Axid® can generally relieve heartburn and treat GERD.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that block acid production more effectively. Proton pump inhibitors include Aciphex®, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec® and Protonix®.

There are some proton pump inhibitors that can be purchased over-the-counter. Talk to your healthcare provider about these medications and what is best for you.

Does Heartburn & Acid Reflux Need To Be Monitored And If So How

Many people find their symptoms improve greatly if they change their lifestyle. Others may need to take medicines from time to time or long-term, depending on the results of a gastroscopy. There are some people for whom drug treatment is not suitable for one reason or another. In such cases, your GP may then refer you to your local hospitals Gastroenterology Department for their advice. The specialist may choose to measure the amount of acid you are refluxing over a 24-hour period. This is called pH monitoring. The test is often useful when considering if anti-reflux surgery would be appropriate.

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3. Purple Onions

Purple onions help increase the taste of food, stimulating your taste. With a high content of vitamins and minerals , we cannot deny many benefits of purple onion for health. But Dr Jeremy advised that patients with acid reflux should limit their consumption of purple onion because they open up the valve between the stomach and esophagus, making your condition worse. For patients with gastric pain, eating more purple onions causes the pH in the stomach to drop below 4 and exacerbate the symptoms of heartburn and belching. So, if you really like to eat onion, you should replace the purple onions with green onions to relieve the symptoms of the disease.

4. Carbonated Soft Drinks

This is one of the foods that cause acid reflux, indigestion and gas that few people know, but this is true. In fact, a lot of people love drinking carbonated drinks. Drinking these types of drinks creates a sense of well-being and excitement for the user. Unfortunately, carbonates in beverages increase pressure on the stomach. When they are in the stomach, they produce many air bubbles that push the gas back up the esophagus. This gas will pull both food and acid. High levels of caffeine also increase the amount of acid in the stomach. For those reasons, patients with acid reflux should not drink carbonated beverages and caffeine drinks.

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What Is The Difference Between Heartburn And Acid Reflux

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. Heartburn describes a feeling of burning, pain, or discomfort in the chest that can be quite uncomfortable. You also may a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth, and it usually occurs after you eat a big meal or when you lay down.

Not everyone with GERD will experience heartburn. Other symptoms of acid reflux include regurgitation of acid into the throat or mouth, a bitter taste in the mouth, upset stomach, belching, nausea after eating, feeling full, stomach and upper abdomen bloating, dry cough, wheezing, hoarseness, feeling of tightness in the throat, and in some people, vomiting.

Study Links Duration Of Heartburn To Severity Of Esophageal Disease

What is the Cause of Heartburn &  Acid Reflux?

Esophageal disease may be perceived in many forms, with heartburn being the most common. The severity of heartburn is measured by how long a given episode lasts, how often symptoms occur, and/or their intensity. Since the esophageal lining is sensitive to stomach contents, persistent and prolonged exposure to these contents may cause changes such as inflammation, ulcers, bleeding and scarring with obstruction. A pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus may also occur. Barrett’s esophagus causes severe damage to the lining of the esophagus when the body attempts to protect the esophagus from acid by replacing its normal lining with cells that are similar to the intestinal lining.

Research was conducted to determine whether the duration of heartburn symptoms increases the risk of having esophageal complications. The study found that inflammation in the esophagus not only increased with the duration of reflux symptoms, but that Barrett’s esophagus likewise was more frequently diagnosed in these patients. Those patients with reflux symptoms and a history of inflammation in the past were more likely to have Barrett’s esophagus than those without a history of esophageal inflammation.

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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.

What Are Causes Of Heartburn: First Things First

Before diving deep into the topic, a thing must be crystal clear.

Heartburn is not always related to acid reflux.

There is a particular condition, called functional heartburn, that makes things more complicated.

In short, this condition occurs when a person suffers from heartburn symptoms, even though acid reflux is not present.

You can find in the table below the criteria for functional heartburn .

One of the most common causes is the high sensitivity of the esophagus, which leads to the typical heartburn symptoms.

But there is no acid reflux.

This means that, despite the burning sensation, the absence of common causes of acid reflux makes the condition a totally different thing.

Well not cover it now, but its important to know that it exists.

Due to its likely nervous-system-related origin, its frequently associated with other functional bowel disorders and psychological aspects, like somatization.

Whatever the case, its not so uncommon to find people with the condition.

This is relevant to us, because this type of heartburn is very hard to treat, and most medications dont work well.

That being said, we can move forward to real causes of acid reflux leading to heartburn.

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What Is Silent Reflux And What Can I Do About It

Silent reflux often goes undetected. Like acid reflux, silent reflux can cause regurgitation, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and a sore throat. But unlike acid reflux, it does not usually present with heartburn, and the only symptoms may relate to the throat.

Without this very obvious symptom of burning pain, silent reflux symptoms can go unnoticed and become normalized. But silent reflux should be addressed to improve your quality of life and prevent worsening digestive conditions later on.

In this article, well review the symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment of silent reflux and discuss how you can address silent reflux naturally.

What Are The Complications Associated With Heartburn

What causes heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD?

Occasional heartburn isnt typically a cause for concern. However, if you get this symptom frequently, you may have a serious health problem that requires treatment.

If you dont get treatment for serious heartburn, you can develop additional health problems, such as an inflammation of the esophagus, which is called esophagitis, or Barretts esophagus. Barretts esophagus causes changes in the lining of the esophagus that can increase your risk of esophageal cancer.

Long-term heartburn can also affect your quality of life. See your doctor to determine a course of treatment if you find it difficult to carry on your daily life or are severely limited in your activities due to heartburn.

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Why Does Heartburn Happen

Heartburn goes by many names you might also know it as acid reflux or acid indigestion. It is a burning or tingling feeling that occurs when the contents of your stomach rise into your food pipe . Mild heartburn is quite common, and most healthy people will experience it from time to time.

To understand why we get heartburn, it can help to think about how the oesophagus and stomach work.

There is a ring of muscle where the oesophagus and stomach meet . It relaxes to allow food into the stomach and tightens to prevent stomach contents from moving back up into the oesophagus.

In the stomach, strong acids help break down food as part of the digestive process. While your stomach is built to withstand this acid, your oesophagus is not.

If the oesophageal sphincter is weak, or relaxes when it shouldnt, the stomachs contents can move up into the oesophagus and causes pain, irritation, and discomfort. This backward flow is called reflux, and the burning chest pain is known as heartburn.

Lying down or bending over can make heartburn feel worse, as the acidic stomach contents can travel further up the oesophagus.

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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Causes Of Acid Reflux

The following are the most common causes of acid reflux. They may weaken the LES or increase sensitivity to acid reflux symptoms by irritating the esophagus and raising stomach acid levels.

You may find one or more causation to be the blame for your acid reflux.

1. Heartburn Trigger Foods

Certain foods and liquids can trigger heartburn in most people. These should be avoided or eaten sparingly. These foods that trigger heartburn include but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol

The healthier your diet the less risk of heartburn.

2. Low Dietary Fiber

Low dietary fiber can lead to constipation which increases abdominal pressure. This pressure can weaken the LES closure.

3. High Salt Intake

A high salt intake decreases LES muscle pressure allowing acid to reflux.1 and irritates the esophagus leading to increased pain from heartburn.2

4. Eating Large Meals

Eating large meals Increases abdominal pressure leading to added pressure on the LES.

5. Eating Before Bedtime

Eating before bedtime can lead to acid reflux. When laying down, stomach contents will place pressure on the LES and leak through into the esophagus.

6. Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia is an impairment of body structure where part of the stomach pushes through the opening known as the hiatus where the esophagus passes through the diaphragm. A hiatal hernia effects LES function prohibiting it from closing properly and allowing acid reflux.

7. Being Overweight

Three ways being overweight leads to acid reflux:

8. Being Pregnant

When To Seek Medical Advice

Causes and Treatments of Heartburn During Pregnancy

Having mild, infrequent heartburn generally isnt cause for concern. But if youre experiencing heartburn more than twice a week, or if your symptoms are severe or getting worse, its important to speak with your doctor. Frequent heartburn could be a sign of gastro-oesophageal reflux , a condition that requires prescription medication and monitoring.

If you are experiencing chest pain and arent sure if its heartburn or a heart attack, seek immediate medical attention by calling triple zero .

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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.

How Is Gerd Treated

Treatment for GERD depends on how severe symptoms are. For some people, treatment may just include lifestyle changes, such as changing what they eat or drink. Others will need to take medicines. In very rare cases, when GERD is particularly severe, a doctor will recommend surgery.

These lifestyle changes can help ease the symptoms of GERD or even prevent the condition:

  • quitting smoking
  • losing weight if you are overweight
  • eating small meals
  • avoiding carbonated beverages
  • avoiding foods that trigger reflux

It also can help to not lie down for 3 hours after a meal and to not eat 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Doctors sometimes also recommend raising the head of the bed about 6 to 8 inches. Before you start a major bedroom makeover, though, talk to your doctor and your parents about the best sleeping position for you.

If symptoms continue, doctors might prescribe medicine, such as:

  • H2 blockers, which can help block the production of stomach acid
  • proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the amount of acid the stomach makes
  • prokinetics, which help the esophageal sphincter work better and the stomach empty faster. This can prevent reflux episodes.

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Drugs That Cause Heartburn: What They Are

Prescription medications and more in general drugs can cause heartburn as a side effect.

We dedicate a wide analysis of these aspects here, but on this occasion, we want to point out some essential aspects.

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There are some drugs that, because of their mechanism of activity, can cause heartburn and acid reflux.

The first categories of drugs we want to report are painkillers and, more in general, anti-inflammatory medications.

A special mention for Diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that has been proven effective in reducing heartburn symptoms in healthy people.

Other drugs that can trigger heartburn are medicines used for treating high blood pressure, as well as asthma, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, and Parkinsons disease.

We also must remember heartburn related to cancer drugs, and even medications used for hormone therapy have been included in the list of heartburn triggers.

As we report in another post, when it comes to drugs and medications, the fewer the better.

This also applies to heartburn and acid reflux.

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Six Signs Your Heartburn Could Be Something More Serious

What Causes Heartburn Acid Reflux

That burning, uncomfortable sensation in your chest? Itâs probably heartburn. Heartburn is a very common ailment that affects many people for many reasons. It occurs when digestive acid escapes the stomach and irritates the delicate lining of the esophagus.

Usually, itâs the result of eating certain foods, or simply overeating, and can be treated with over-the-counter antacids. But sometimes, heartburn is a symptom of bigger problems, that require other solutions. Hereâs when to call a doctor:

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Learn More About 20 Natural Remedies For Heartburn Reflux And Gerd Here

About the Co-Author

Pallavi Abraham is currently a dietetic intern at the University of Houston. Driven by real life events, she embarked on her journey to become a dietitian after earning a PhD in Biochemistry and gaining extensive experience in cancer research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is passionate about becoming a clinical dietitian and practicing in the field of integrative and functional nutrition. Pallavi is married with two school going kids and in her free time loves to travel with her family.

Disclaimer: Information on this site is intended only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult with a trusted healthcare provider before implementing significant dietary change. Read additional disclaimer info here.


  • American Collage of Gastroenterology: Acid reflux.
  • Healthline: Emergency Acid Reflux Symptoms.
  • Health: Things That Could Be Giving You Acid Reflux.
  • Dr. Ruscio: Gastroesophageal Reflux with Dr. Ben Weitz.
  • Kresser, C. Is Heartburn Caused by a Leaky Esophagus?
  • Medical News Today: What is Hypochlorhydria?
  • Does Chewing Tobacco Cause Heartburn

    Many people think that tobacco chewing is just a risk factor for heartburn and acid reflux.

    Unfortunately, this is not true.

    In fact, tobacco is a powerful cause for developing acid reflux and subsequently heartburn.

    Tobacco reduces the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter and this leads to acid reflux.

    In addition, tobacco reduces the production of saliva rich in bicarbonate. This is a problem because this component is important for buffering and clearance of acid in the mouth and esophagus.

    Stopping smoking tobacco leads to a strong reduction of heartburn symptoms.

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    How To Treat Silent Reflux

    Its important to begin treatment as soon as possible once you suspect you have silent reflux. This can prevent long-lasting damage to the throat and esophagus. Treatment tends to take one of two routes.

    A conventional approach usually involves proton pump inhibitors, also called PPIs, like Prilosec. However, for many people, these medications may at best only be partially effective. At least one systematic review found there was no statistical difference for patients between PPIs and a placebo . Using these medications for a long period of time can also result in worse side effects, like cardiovascular complications, kidney damage, bone fracture, GI distress , and even an increase in all-cause mortality .

    Surgical treatment is also possible using a procedure called fundoplication, which wraps part of the stomach around the esophagus to prevent reflux. This procedure has been found to be effective for improving LPR symptoms like cough, throat clearing, and overall quality of life, and most patients were then able to discontinue PPI use after surgery . But ideally, a natural approach to healing silent reflux would make this procedure unnecessary.

    However, a natural approach using diet, lifestyle changes, and strategic supplementation can often resolve symptoms without medication or surgery. This means fewer risks and side effects. Lets examine these methods for treating silent reflux and LPR.

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