What Else Should I Know
Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce or even stop uncomfortable GERD symptoms. Untreated GERD can cause permanent damage to the esophagus.
You’ll probably find that one of the simplest ways to make living with GERD easier is to avoid the things that trigger your symptoms. Some people will have to limit certain foods; others may have to give them up entirely. It all depends on your symptoms.
It can be hard to give up sodas or favorite foods at first. But after a while, lots of people discover that they feel so much better that they don’t miss the problem foods;as much as they thought they would.
Heartburn Or Heart Attack
A heart attack is when the arteries connected to the heart become blocked. Heartburn, on the other hand, occurs when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus.
Some symptoms of heartburn and a heart attack could be similar, such as chest pain. As a result, some people who are having a heart attack do not take action as they think they have heartburn.
If a person experiences heartburn pain alongside shortness of breath or sweating, this could be a heart-related issue.
Other symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- discomfort in the chest, such as squeezing, fullness, pressure, or pain
- pain or discomfort in one or both arms, stomach, neck, jaw, or back
If a person has some or all of these symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention. In the words of the American Heart Association , If in doubt, check it out.
Knowing how to distinguish a heart attack from heartburn can save lives.
Foods That Can Cause Heartburn
Heartburn affects more than 60 million Americans every month .
It is best described as a painful, burning sensation that occurs in the lower chest area.
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid escapes into the esophagus, the tube that delivers food and beverages to your stomach.
Normally, stomach acid cannot escape into the esophagus because of a barrier called the lower esophageal sphincter. This is a ring-like muscle that naturally stays closed, and normally only opens when you swallow or belch .
However, in people with acid reflux, this muscle is often weakened. This is one reason why people with acid reflux experience heartburn .
Diet plays an important role in heartburn. Many foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows food to escape into the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Here are 11 foods that can cause heartburn.
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When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your heartburn wont go away.
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
- Its hard or hurts to swallow.
- Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
- You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
- You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
- You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
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
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Can Exercise Be A Cause Of Heartburn
Exercise can trigger heartburn. Sometimes thatâs due to increased pressure on the abdomen, which can increase the risk of acid reflux. In one study looking at different types of exercise, weightlifters had the most heartburn and acid reflux. Runners had milder symptoms and less reflux than weightlifters. Cyclists had the least reflux.
What Are The Complications Associated With Heartburn
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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Research And Statistics: How Many People Have Gerd
About 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences GERD, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Many more people experience acid reflux on a regular basis but not frequently enough for it to qualify as GERD.
Theres evidence to suggest that people the United States and Europe are at a higher risk for GERD than people in other parts of the world.
According to a;study published in the journal Gut, between 10 and 20 percent of participants in North America and Europe experienced heartburn or acid regurgitation at least weekly, compared with less than 5 percent of people in Asia. A number of factors may explain this, the researchers say, including higher prevalence of obesity and co-occurring conditions like respiratory diseases.
Frequent heartburn appears to be more common in North America than in Europe, with differences across countries and regions.
Men and women seem to be about equally likely to experience GERD.
There’s Too Much Fructose In Your Diet
Is your diet full of fatty foods like soda, candy, cookies, and other sugary substances? If so, then it could be the cause of your heartburn. “Most Americans consume far too much fructose in their diet and this can lead to heartburn,” explains Ken Berry, MD, author of Lies My Doctor Told Me. “Eating or drinking too much fructose, or high-fructose corn syrup, can inflame the stomach and overwork the liver, and so decreasing the number of soft drinks and fruit juices consumed can often improve heartburn quite a bit.”
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Favorite Online Resources On Gerd
This great resource lets you know what tests to expect for a GERD diagnosis, what treatments your doctor might suggest, and even a couple of herbs to try in addition to your doctors treatment regimen to help relieve your symptoms. You can also look for a doctor in your area in the “Find a Doctor” section on the main page.
This institute is a division of the National Institutes of Health and is funded by the federal government to research treatments for many diseases, including GERD. In addition to vetted basic information on the condition and treatment, the site offers information on how to participate in clinical trials, which you may want to discuss with your doctor.
Medications That May Trigger Heartburn
There are some medications that can cause heartburn, because they may relax the LES. You may want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor about your heartburn if you’re taking any of the following:
- Medications for asthma or allergies
- Prescription blood pressure or angina pills
- Medication for a urinary tract infection
- Muscle relaxants
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Eating A Large Meal And Then Lying Down
Eating a large meal at any time can trigger acid reflux, but its especially troublesome if you do it right before you go to bed or decide to lounge on the couch.
Blame it on gravity. Eating right before lying down leads to reflux since the stomach is full while one is lying down and it is easier for the acid to back up into the esophagus, explains Dr. Ivanina. Large meals also may overcome the esophageal barrier and lead to increased acid exposure.
Try eating several small meals staggered throughout the day instead of fewer large meals. Dont lie down until two or three hours after you eat and, if you still have problems, try raising the head of your bed a few inches to offset the effect of gravity.
A lot of people get some relief from sleeping on an incline or with a wedge under their body, says Dr. Schiller.
What Causes Acid Reflux Disease
Several factors may increase your risk for acid reflux disease.
Stomach abnormalities. One common cause of acid reflux disease is a stomach abnormality called a hiatal hernia, which can occur in people of any age. A hiatal hernia happens when the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm. This is the muscle wall separating your stomach from your chest. When it works correctly, the diaphragm normally helps keep acid from rising into your esophagus. But if you have a hiatal hernia, it is easier for acid to move up into your esophagus.
Pregnancy. Many women experience acid reflux for the first time during pregnancy. This is caused by increasing levels of hormones combined with pressure from the growing fetus. Usually worst during the third trimester, the symptoms almost always go away after delivery.
Smoking.Smoking may contribute to acid reflux disease by doing any of the following:
- Damaging mucus membranes
- Impairing muscle reflexes in the throat
- Increasing acid secretion
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What Is Gastroesophageal Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux , also called reflux, is when food and acid from the stomach go back up into the esophagus. This causes an uncomfortable feeling in the chest, often called heartburn.
With GER, reflux happens after nearly every meal and causes noticeable discomfort. After eating, people with GER feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, and throat.
While it’s more common in adults, kids, teens, and even babies can have gastroesophageal reflux.
What Causes Indigestion
A lot of factors can cause indigestion. These include:
- Eating certain foods, such as those that are spicy and fatty, and those with lots of acid or fiber
- Eating too late in the day
- Drinking alcohol or too much caffeine
- Taking certain medicines
- Not sleeping
Problems in your GI tract or other health issues also can cause indigestion. These include:
- Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux , or gastroesophageal reflux disease : This is when your food and drink comes back up from your stomach after eating or drinking. Its in the form of acid and can come into your esophagus, the tube-like;organ;connecting your mouth and stomach. Acid reflux also can produce vomiting. This condition also may cause heartburn.
- Irritable;bowel;syndrome: This disorder affects your intestines. Symptoms include stomach pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and;diarrhea.
- Infection: A bacterial infection from Helicobacter pylori can cause indigestion.
- Gastroparesis:;This condition affects digestion. If muscles in your GI tract stop working, your body slows down or stops the movement of food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, bloating, and acid reflux.
- Ulcer: This is a sore on the lining of your stomach , small;intestine, or esophagus.
- Gastritis: This is inflammation of your stomach lining.
- Stomach cancer:;This is a rare condition, but indigestion can be one of its signs.
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How Is Gerd Diagnosed
A diagnosis of GERD is based primarily on the symptoms you have and how often you have them, though there is not a hard and fast rule about how frequently they have to occur.
“Some epidemiologic studies would suggest clinically significant symptoms would be at least twice a week, but some studies include patients with GERD as having symptoms only as often as once a month, Dr. Khan says.
Your doctor will work with you to determine if you have GERD. Diagnostic tests for GERD include the following:
What Foods And Drinks Cause Heartburn
- Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.
- Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.
- Additional foods that make heartburn worse.
Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events. Print this and take this with you to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss possible causes of heartburn you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.
Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.
Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant .
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You’re Eating Dinner Too Late At Night
It’s not just what foods you eat, but also when you eat them that can contribute to whether you experience heartburn. “A major culprit is the displacement of dinnertime to later evening hours, often after 7 p.m. and frequently including a gargantuan meal consisting of fatty foods, chocolate, and/or wine,” says Morton Tavel, MD,;clinical professor at Indiana University School of Medicine and author of Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks: A Physician’s Advice. “These all contribute to delayed emptying of the stomach together with increased acid production.”
If you want to avoid the heartburn that you’re all too familiar with at night, Tavel suggests moving your dinnertime to before 7 p.m. as well as reducing the size of your evening meal. If eating earlier just isn’t plausible, then try to eat at least three hours before you plan to hit the hay.
Signs And Symptoms Of Gerd
GERD has increasingly become a personalized disease, says Abraham Khan, MD, gastroenterologist and medical director of the Center for Esophageal Health at NYU Langone Health in New York City. Not everyone with GERD has the same underlying causes, symptoms, or amount of injury to the esophagus or aerodigestive tract, he says.
Still, there are some typical telltale signs of GERD.
The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn, felt by a painful, burning sensation in the middle of your chest. Usually, if the heartburn is mild and less than two times a week, it is considered mild GERD, says Saleem Chowdhry, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms more than two times a week and where there is concern for inflammation in the esophagus is considered moderate or severe GERD.”
- Sore throat or an irritated feeling in your esophagus
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Causes Of Gerd: Reflux Chemistry And Anatomy
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease generally stems from just two underlying causes: those that have to do with reflux chemistry and those that stem from anatomical dysfunction.
Chemical causes of GERD can include:
- fluids refluxed from the stomach irritating or damaging the esophagus
- general sensitivity of esophageal tissue, often caused by natural low acid intolerance, use of prescription drugs or other drugs as alcohol and tobacco
Most of the time, however, GERD can be attributed to a patients own anatomy.
The biology of swallowing, for healthy patients, is simple. When a person with normal, healthy anatomy swallows, the valve between the esophagus and the stomach opens. This allows food to pass. The valve then closes to prevent stomach contents from backwashing or refluxing back up into the esophagus. A normal, healthy valve serves as an effective antireflux barrier and experts consider it the most important factor in preventing GERD.
For people with GERD, this valve becomes dysfunctional and does not close appropriately. This allows abnormal amounts of both acidic and non-acidic fluids to backwash into the esophagus and causes GERD.
For people with GERD, this valve becomes dysfunctional and does not close appropriately. This allows abnormal amounts of both acidic and non-acidic fluids to backwash into the esophagus.
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The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to;the Medical Library index page.
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What Is The Treatment For Heartburn
The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.
I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they don’t seem to help.
Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually can’t stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.
What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?
Try any or all of the following:
Will these changes stop the heartburn?
They may. If they don’t, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.
How do antacids work?
What if lifestyle changes and antacids don’t work?
If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.
What are acid blockers?