While heartburn is not considered a life-threatening condition, people who suffer from it often find that their productivity takes a steep nosedive.
What exactly happens when you have heartburn? Patients experience heartburn because the contents of the stomach, including the acids, rise up to the esophagus. Often, heartburn is one of the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux.
In a normal person, the lower esophageal sphincter opens after swallowing, allowing the food to go to the stomach. This muscle then closes to prevent food and stomach acids from backing up to the esophagus. When a person is suffering from acid reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle is often weak, allowing the acid and other contents of the stomach to back up into the esophagus. This leads to the patient experiencing heartburn which is characterized by chest pain, asthma, sore throat and hoarseness.
How can you deal with heartburn? Gastroenterologists Red Bank NJ share a few tips.
One of the first things that you need to do is to keep a record of every time you experience a heartburn.
Next, you need to modify your diet and avoid certain types of food and drinks that can irritate the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. These include carbonated drinks, coffee, fried or fatty foods, chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, alcoholic beverages, and sour condiments like vinegar and ketchup.
Apart from eliminating these from your diet, it would also be beneficial to reduce your food portions. Also, eat your last meal two to three hours before turning in for bed.
If you are a smoker, consider quitting this bad habit. If you are overweight, you need to lose a few pounds. However, avoid activities, including some types of exercises, which put pressure on the stomach.
Your doctor may also prescribe an over-the-counter medication which can help relieve some of the symptoms you are experiencing. These medications include antacids, foaming agents, H2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors and prokinetics. However, if — after modifying your diet and lifestyle and taking the prescribed medications, you see little improvement in your condition — you may need to see your gastroenterologist for other treatment options.
The gastroenterologist may recommend that you undergo a few tests in order to properly evaluate your condition. These tests include endoscopy, biopsy, impedance monitoring, esophageal manometric studies and pH monitoring.
If you wish to avoid taking medications or if you have been unresponsive to these, your doctor may suggest that you undergo surgery.