Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for tag: Heartburn
Heartburn is a common problem, especially if you love spicy or acidic foods. It is estimated over 60 million people in this country suffer from heartburn at least once a month, and 15 million Americans feel heartburn daily, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
Heartburn feels like a burning pain in your throat and chest, but it has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn is caused by excess stomach acid, produced when you eat spicy or acid foods. Occasional heartburn can be relieved with over-the-counter antacids.
In addition to taking antacids, there are a few tips you can try for occasional heartburn. Remember to:
- Avoid eating before lying down
- Limit spicy or acidic foods in your diet
- Avoid eating a large meal before bed
- Eat smaller meals more frequently
If you suffer from chronic heartburn, you could have acid reflux or a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Acid reflux is caused by the sphincter muscle between your esophagus and stomach not closing properly or completely. This sphincter muscle is responsible for preventing stomach acid from backing up into your throat. When the sphincter muscle stays open, stomach acid can back up into your throat, causing heartburn.
If acid reflux goes untreated, it can develop into gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD. This condition can cause damage to your esophagus, and even esophageal cancer.
You should visit your gastroenterologist if you suffer from heartburn more than twice in a week. You should also visit your gastroenterologist if you experience:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss from lack of appetite
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Throat problems or bad breath
- Wheezing or dry coughing
- Tooth enamel erosion
Your gastroenterologist is an expert at treating heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you experience regular episodes of heartburn, it’s time to take action and schedule an appointment with your GI doctor. Don’t wait, because chronic heartburn can be serious, so call your GI doctor today.
Wondering if you could have GERD?
Are you living with acid reflux? If you deal with this problem rather frequently, you could have a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s more common than you know, and you could have it. Here’s what you should know about GERD,
What is GERD?
Every time you swallow food, your stomach produces acid to aid digestion. In a healthy gastrointestinal system, a valve in the esophagus opens to allow food and acid to pass from the esophagus to your gut. In those with GERD, the valve that allows food to pass through it may not close fully or open far too often, which can cause these acids to travel back up into the esophagus. If this happens regularly, the lining of the esophagus can become irritated and even damaged.
What Are the Symptoms?
While everyone will probably experience heartburn at some point, you will likely deal with chronic or persistent heartburn if you have GERD. Everybody is different when it comes to their symptoms. Besides heartburn and acid reflux, which are the two main symptoms of GERD, other symptoms include,
- Sore throat
- Problems swallowing
- Gum inflammation
- Throat irritation
- Chronic bad breath
- A bitter taste in the mouth
When Should I See a Gastroenterologist?
It isn’t always easy to know when to visit a gastroenterologist for an evaluation. Of course, if you’ve been dealing with heartburn that occurs twice or more during the week, if your heartburn is only getting worse, if you have trouble swallowing or if heartburn wakes you up at night, then it’s essential that you get your symptoms checked out.
How is GERD Treated?
The goal of treatment is to reduce and even eliminate your symptoms while also helping give the esophagus a chance to heal itself. There will be specific lifestyle changes you will need to make to improve your symptoms, such as,
- Avoiding or limiting spicy, fatty, fried and acidic foods
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol
- Losing weight if obesity or being overweight is a factor
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Not eating about two to three hours before bed
- Not lying down immediately after eating
- Avoiding shirts or belts that are too tight or put too much pressure around the middle
Certain medications will also be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms better and to help repair the damage done to the esophagus. Surgery may be recommended if you’ve tried all other non-surgical options, but nothing has managed your GERD.
Don’t ignore your acid reflux, especially if you’re dealing with it twice a week. If so, you owe it to yourself to schedule an appointment with your gastroenterologist to find out if you could be dealing with GERD.
If your heartburn keeps returning, it’s important to know what to do.
You are getting ready to sit down to dinner and realize it’s taco night. While this would make most people jump for joy, if you suffer from heartburn then the idea of eating anything spicy may preemptively make your chest hurt. You want to enjoy your favorite foods but you know you’re going to pay for it later. If this sounds like you, a gastroenterologist can provide some simple solutions for how to tackle your heartburn.
Treating Heartburn Yourself
Before turning to a gastroenterologist you may wish to try controlling heartburn on your own. There are some simple lifestyle approaches you can take to manage mild to moderate heartburn symptoms such as,
- Not eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Eating slowly and mindfully (to prevent overeating)
- Staying away from certain foods (e.g. chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes or spicy foods) that could aggravate your symptoms
- Losing excess weight, if needed
- Limiting alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Waiting two hours after a meal before exercising
- Not wearing clothes that are restrictive or put pressure around the waist
Nothing Seems to Be Working. Now What?
If these habits don’t improve your heartburn, then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist to figure out what is going on and how to treat this problem. Often, a prescription medication like a proton pump inhibitor or a stomach acid reducer is better equipped to target your symptoms and reduce stomach irritation than over-the-counter remedies.
Plus, over-the-counter heartburn medications might be great for treating the occasional bout of heartburn, but shouldn't be used more than twice a week. If you find yourself dealing with heartburn two or more times a week, then this is also a sign to see a gastroenterologist.
Keeping a diary while making these simple lifestyle changes is a great way to determine what helps your symptoms and what makes them worse. If you do keep a heartburn diary be sure to bring it with you to your doctor's appointment so your gastroenterologist can gain as much insight into your heartburn issues as possible.
If you’re suffering from heartburn and can’t seem to manage your symptoms on your own then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist who can figure out whether you could have GERD. If left untreated, GERD could lead to more serious complications, so it’s important to get evaluated by a medical specialist.
Here are some ways in which ginger could help your gut.
It Could Aid in Digestion
Whether your stomach is upset upon waking or you just tried a more adventurous dish at a new restaurant, there are many reasons why your stomach might be feeling a little unhappy. Fortunately, ginger can be a helpful and natural remedy to ease that upset stomach.
How? Ginger is believed to speed up the movement of food through the GI tract, while also protecting the gut. It may also ease bloating, cramping, and gas. If you are dealing with an upset stomach, you may want to boil some fresh ginger or add a little ground ginger to some hot water.
It May Protect Against Heartburn
If you find yourself dealing with that gnawing, burning in your chest, ginger may also keep these problems at bay (or, at the very least, alleviate them). Ginger doesn’t just boost motility of the intestinal tract, it may also protect the gastric lining while reducing stomach acid from flowing back up the esophagus after meals.
It Stops Bloat
Most people will experience bloating at some point, particularly after eating. Whether from overheating or from food intolerance, bloating could be alleviated by drinking ginger tea or eating dried ginger. Indigestion is one of the top reasons for bloating, and ginger has the ability to reduce indigestion, which in turn can stop bloat from happening in the first place. People who are prone to bloating may want to add ground ginger to their morning cup of tea or water to prevent this problem from happening during the day.
It’s important not to ignore ongoing stomach problems. If abdominal pain and cramping, or other intestinal problems keep plaguing you, then it’s time to see a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on. While natural remedies such as ginger can be helpful for minor and fleeting bouts of nausea and an upset stomach, they won’t be able to treat more serious stomach issues.
- 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
- Taking pain relievers regularly
- Being pregnant
- Eating larger meals or eating close to bedtime
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Being overweight
- High stress
- Hiatal hernia
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
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, one of the first things your gastroenterologist will examine is your diet. While certain foods can exacerbate heartburn and make it worse, certain foods can improve and ease acid reflux symptoms. Some of these foods include:
Foods that are high in fiber such as oatmeal aren’t just amazing for your digestive tract, they may also prevent heartburn from brewing in the first place. Plus, whole grain foods can help satiate your appetite for longer, which means that you are less likely to go for snacks and other foods that could cause a nasty bout of acid reflux. So, start your morning right with a hearty bowl of oatmeal. And perhaps you may even want to add a….
Just like vegetables, a banana is a low-acid and high alkaline fruit that is also great for the digestive tract. If you battle with heartburn, bananas can help prevent stomach acid production while also helping things run smoothly through the digestive system.
Whether you prefer ginger sprinkled into your morning smoothie, a soothing cup of ginger tea or fresh ginger grated into your water, this magical vegetable reduces inflammation and can aid in preventing and treating heartburn as well as calm an upset stomach and ease nausea.
Leafy Greens and Veggies
Fibrous vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, potatoes, and asparagus are alkaline, which helps to keep stomach acid in check. This is also because these delicious and nutritious foods are low in sugar and fat, which means they are friends to those with heartburn.
We all know that yogurt has amazing probiotic properties, providing your gut with the good bacteria it needs to stay healthy and strong. Good bacteria can also improve how your immune system functions, staving off germs and infections, while also coating and easing stomach acid.
Whether you have questions about your current heartburn-friendly diet or you’re having trouble getting your acid reflux under control, a gastroenterologist will be able to provide you with proper long-term medication and lifestyle changes that can help.
- Greasy and fatty foods
- Spicy foods
Whenever you eat spicy foods do you know that you’ll be suffering for it shortly after? Do you find that heartburn keeps you up at night or makes it impossible to enjoy a lot of your favorite foods? Do you suffer from heartburn symptoms more often than not? If so then you may be dealing with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive disorder in which food and stomach acid travel back into the esophagus. Over time the stomach’s acidity can wear away at the lining of the esophagus and cause irritation.
Someone with GERD will not only experience heartburn on a regular basis but also may have difficulty or pain when swallowing. Since the acid continues to travel back through the esophagus this can lead to persistent or recurring sore throats, as well as a dry cough or changes in your voice (e.g. hoarseness). You may even feel some of your food (as well as the stomach acid) travel back up through your throat.
If you find yourself taking a heartburn medication more than twice a week or if your symptoms are severe then this is the perfect time to turn to a GI doctor who can find a better way to manage your symptoms. If over-the-counter remedies aren’t cutting it then a gastroenterologist will prescribe a stronger medication. Some medications work by reducing acid production while other medications prevent acid production altogether to give the esophagus time to heal.
While most people find that their GERD symptoms can be properly controlled with over-the-counter or prescription medications, there are some people who still don’t find the relief they want or those who don’t want to use medications for the rest of their lives. If this is the case, there are also certain surgical procedures that can be recommended to help improve how the lower esophageal sphincter functions to prevent food and stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
Of course, there are some simple lifestyle modifications that can also help. Besides maintaining a healthy weight, it’s important to avoid certain foods that can trigger your symptoms (e.g. caffeine; alcohol; chocolate). When you do eat try to eat smaller meals and avoid eating right before bedtime. If you are a smoker, you will want to strongly consider quitting.
If you have questions about GERD and managing your heartburn symptoms then it’s time you turned to a gastroenterologist who can diagnose you with this digestive disease and then create a tailored treatment plan to help make mealtimes less painful.
Got heartburn? Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, is a form of indigestion felt as a burning pain in the chest. It's caused when stomach acid flows up into your esophagus. More than just a minor discomfort, acid indigestion can reduce quality of life. The following tips will help you rid yourself of heartburn.
1. Change your diet. Stay away from beverages and foods that commonly cause heartburn. A good way to work out what beverages and foods trigger your heartburn symptoms is to keep track of what you eat. Common offenders include tea, coffee, tomatoes, garlic, fatty foods, spicy foods, milk, chocolate and peppermint.
2. Don't overeat. Overeating can trigger heartburn. Big meals put pressure on the muscle that helps keep stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. The more food you eat, the longer it takes for your stomach to empty, which contributes to acid reflux. Try eating five small meals a day to keep reflux at bay.
3. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can trigger heartburn. Alcohol can relax the sphincter muscle at the lower end of your esophagus, causing stomach acid to flow up into your esophagus If your aim is to unwind after a long day at work, try exercise, stretching, listening to soothing music, or deep breathing instead of drinking alcohol.
4. Lose weight. If you overeat, lose weight- but be sure to consult your doctor before starting a vigorous exercise program. The increased risk of heartburn is thought to be due to excess abdominal fat causing pressure on the stomach.
5. Stop smoking. Nicotine is a muscle relaxant. Nicotine can relax the sphincter muscle, causes acid from the stomach to leak upward into the esophagus. Nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges are healthier and safer than cigarettes, and they are less likely to give you heartburn.
6. Contact your doctor. Your doctor may suggest antacids for occasional heartburn. Sometimes, more powerful prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers and are needed to treat chronic heartburn. When all else fails, surgery may be required to repair the LES.
Chronic heartburn can affect your daily activities and make life frustrating and miserable. Don't hesitate to contact a gastroenterologist about heartburn.