Heartburn: Symptoms and Treatment

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Heartburn: Symptoms and Treatment

HeartburnIt’s Taco Tuesday and everyone is happy; everyone but you. While you might love tacos you just know the burning pain you’re going to experience the minute you put that spicy food to your lips. You also know that your heartburn will probably keep you up at night. You’re also tired of having to take antacids all the time. If this sounds like you, it’s time to consult your gastroenterologist.
 
Do you deal with heartburn? You might if you experience,
  • A burning or gnawing in your chest and throat that occurs after eating (particularly greasy, acidic, or spicy foods)
  • Discomfort gets worse when lying down, especially after eating
  • An acidic taste in the back of your throat
Symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after eating or drinking. If you deal with heartburn regularly you may also notice a persistent sore throat or hoarseness. If you experience heartburn two or more times a week you should see a gastroenterologist.
 
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing heartburn. Some factors include,
 
  • Taking pain relievers regularly
  • Being pregnant
  • Eating larger meals or eating close to bedtime
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Being overweight
  • High stress
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
 
I have heartburn. What do I do?
 
The occasional bout of heartburn due to Taco Tuesday or that second whiskey on the rocks can often be treated with over-the-counter antacids. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding spicy foods, eating smaller meals, and managing stress can also reduce your chances of heartburn.
If heartburn becomes a regular occurrence it’s important to see a gastroenterologist, as this could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can lead to more serious complications if left untreated. Instead of using antacids, which aren’t meant to be used regularly or for long periods of time, your doctor will prescribe an acid blocker or a proton pump inhibitor (PPI).
 
If you’re dealing with heartburn regularly, antacids alone probably aren’t going to be much help. You should turn to a gastroenterologist to find a better, long-term solution. It’s also important to determine whether or not you might have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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