Heartburn

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Heartburn, reflux

Heartburn may be a sensation of burning within the chest caused by stomach acid backing up into the oesophagus (food pipe). The burning is generally felt in the upper and central part of the chest, simply behind the breastbone (breast bone). The burning will worsen when lying flat. Pregnant women may also experience increased heartburn.

Many people suffer from heartburn at some point in their lives. There are many over the counter drugs and home remedies available to treat the symptoms of heartburn and in most cases it is not necessary to visit a doctor unless symptoms persist and occur several times a week.  

If the pain becomes more severe or is accompanied by a shortness of breath, pain in your arms or neck you should seek a doctor to ensure these symptoms are not associated with more serious conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn is actually a symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and is caused by acid refluxing back into the esophagus. Risk factors include those that increase the production of acid in the stomach, as well as structural problems that allow acid reflux into the esophagus. What ar the symptoms of heartburn?

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

Usualy hearburn feels like a burning sensation in the chest and may be accompanied by:

  • a bitter or sour taste in the back of your mouth
  • a feeling as if a piece of food got stuck inside your throat

If you experience the additional symptoms outlined below, you should see a medical experts as soon as possible to rule out other potential illnesses:

  • shortness of breath,
  • radiation to the arms or neck,
  • dizziness or physiological state.

Foods and beverages to avoid

  • Alcohol (relaxes the lower part of the esophagus)
  • Coffee and orange or different acidic juices
  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods.

Every person reacts different to food. To get a better understanding of what triggers heartburn it is worthwhile to keep a food log where you keep track of what you eat. Then when you experience heartburn, you will be able to pin point the food group (s) that cause you discomfort.

Heartburn diagnosis

Often all that a health-care skilled needs may be a thorough history and physical to form the preliminary identification of heartburn. To assess if any damaga has been caused by this condition, the doctor may also opt to undertake the following tests:

  • Endoscopy: Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person's digestive tract. Using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it, your doctor can view pictures of your digestive tract on a color TV monitor.
  • Upper GI series (upper GI series): After drinking a liquid that coats the inside of the digestive tract, X-rays are taken. These X-rays will show the outline of the digestive system.
  • Ambulatory pH testing: This test measures the acidity in the esophagus via a small tube that goes through the nose into the stomach.

Treatment of Heartburn

The simplest way to treat heartburn is to undertake lifestyle changes and if required, use over the counter medicine. Tips for lifestyle changes include:

  • Weight loss/keeping ideal weight: Excess weight will increase the pressure on the abdomen, increasing the possibility of acid reflux into the muscular structure.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking interferes with the right functioning of the lower passage anatomical sphincter.
  • Food control: Avoid foods that trigger the burning sensation. Keep a food journal to identify the foods that trigger your reaction and then stop eating them.
  • Elevate the top of the bed which is shown to decrease reflux. 

 

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