Heartburn is also called reflux or GERD for Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Heartburn (GERD) symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), usually after eating and possibly worse at night
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sensation or lump in your throat
- Regurgitation of food or a sour liquid
If you have nighttime reflux, you may also experience:
- Chronic cough
- New or worsening asthma
- Disrupted sleep
If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or jaw and/or arm pain dial 911, as this may be a heart attack. If you experience severe or frequent GERD symptoms or take over-the-counter (OTC) medication more than twice a week, you should schedule an appointment.
GERD is caused by frequent acid reflux. Reflux occurs when the opening from the esophagus to the stomach relaxes/opens and allows the stomach contents (including stomach acid) to back up into your esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that runs from your mouth to your stomach. The backflow of acid causes the lining of the esophagus to become inflamed.
Conditions that increase the risk of GERD include obesity, hiatal hernia (bulging of the top of the stomach through the diaphragm), pregnancy, connective tissue disorders, and delayed stomach emptying. Factors that worsen acid reflux are smoking, eating large meals, eating late, eating certain foods, beverages like coffee and alcohol, and some medications such as aspirin.
How to Manage GERD
Unlike other medical conditions, GERD is almost completely preventable.
- Weight loss, try to maintain a normal weight
- Avoid foods known to cause reflux
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
- Coffee and other caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- eat smaller meals, a full stomach increases the risk of reflux
- Do not lie down after eating. Best to wait at least 3 hours before laying down.
- Elevate the head of your bed or use a wedge support. Pillows do not work for GERD as they only raise your head.
- Review all your medications with your provider. We can tell you what can affect or cause GERD. This includes OTC meds.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)
- Calcium channel blockers (often used to treat high blood pressure)
- Certain asthma medications, including albuterol
- Anticholinergics, medications used to treat conditions such as seasonal allergies and glaucoma
- Bisphosphonates. used to boost bone density
- Sedatives and painkillers
- Some antibiotics
- Iron tablets
You should talk to your provider about other options. Do not stop taking any prescription medication before talking to your provider!
- Quit smoking, nicotine relaxes the muscle that is causing the reflux
- Cut back on alcohol
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
At Show Low Family Clinic we take your health seriously. If you are postmenopausal or over 60 and male there are some OTC medications for heartburn that you should not take as they can cause thinning of the bones. Schedule today and let’s get you living your best life.