Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest that occurs directly behind the breastbone. After eating, in the evening, or when lying down or bending over, the discomfort is usually worse.
Heartburn is a regular occurrence that is not cause for concern. With lifestyle adjustments and over-the-counter medications, most people can manage the discomfort of heartburn on their own.
Heartburn that becomes more common or disrupts your everyday routine could be a sign of a more serious problem that necessitates medical attention.
Heartburn symptoms include:
- A searing sensation in the chest that generally arises after eating and may occur at night
- A bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
- Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
When should you see a doctor?
If you have significant chest pain or pressure, seek medical care right away, especially if it’s accompanied by other signs and symptoms like arm or jaw discomfort or difficulty breathing. Chest pain could be a sign that you’re having a heart attack.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- More than twice a week, you have heartburn.
- Despite the usage of over-the-counter drugs, symptoms continue.
- You’re having trouble swallowing
- You’ve been experiencing nausea or vomiting for a long time.
- You’ve lost weight due to a lack of appetite or difficulties eating.
How GERD manifest itself?
Stomach acid backs up into the tube that transports food from your mouth to your stomach, causing heartburn (esophagus).
When you swallow, the lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus) relaxes, allowing food and drink to flow down into your stomach. The muscle then tightens once more.
Stomach acid can run back up into your esophagus (acid reflux) and cause heartburn if the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes or weakens. When you’re bending over or lying down, the acid backup may be worse.
Factors that are at risk
Heartburn can be triggered by a variety of foods and beverages, including:
- meals with a kick
- Citrus juices
- Ketchup and other tomato-based items
- Foods that are fatty or fried
- Alcohol, carbonated beverages, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages are all examples of caffeinated beverages.
- greasy or large meals
- Being overweight or pregnant can also make you more susceptible to heartburn.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is characterized by recurrent heartburn that disrupts your daily routine. Prescription drugs and, in certain cases, surgery or other treatments may be required to manage GERD. GERD can cause major esophageal damage or Barrett’s esophagus, which is a type of precancerous alteration in the esophagus.
Your doctor may suggest the following tests to see if your heartburn is a GERD symptom:
- An X-ray is used to examine the shape and health of your esophagus and stomach.
- Endoscopy is a procedure that examines your esophagus for any abnormalities. For analysis, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be collected.
- Acid probe tests are used to determine when and how long stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. A little computer that you wear around your waist or on a strap over your shoulder is connected to an acid monitor that is inserted in your esophagus.
- Esophageal motility testing is used to determine how well your esophagus moves and how much pressure it holds.
Heartburn can be relieved with a variety of over-the-counter drugs. Among the possibilities are:
- Antacids are medications that help to neutralize stomach acid. Antacids can help you feel better quickly. They can’t, however, repair an esophagus that has been injured by stomach acid.
- H-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) can lower stomach acid levels. H2RAs don’t work as rapidly as antacids, but they may last longer.
- Proton pump inhibitors like lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR) and omeprazole (Nexium 24HR, Prilosec OTC) can help lower stomach acid.
Consult your doctor if over-the-counter medications don’t work or if you use them frequently. You may require prescription medicine as well as more testing.
Home remedies and a healthy lifestyle
Heartburn can be relieved by making the following lifestyle changes:
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Excess weight puts strain on your abdomen, forcing your stomach up and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
- Avoid wearing clothing that is too tight, as this puts pressure on your abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter.
- Heartburn-inducing meals should be avoided.
- After a meal, avoid lying down. Allow at least three hours to pass.
- Late meals should be avoided.
- If you have frequent heartburn at night or during sleeping, raise the head of your bed. If this isn’t an option, wedge a wedge between your mattress and box spring to raise your body from the waist up. Adding more pillows to your head isn’t always a good idea.
- Avoid smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages. Both smoking and consuming alcohol impair the ability of the lower esophageal sphincter to function properly.
- Large meals should be avoided. Rather, spread out your meals throughout the day.