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How To Know If You Have A Heartburn?

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How To Know If You Have A Heartburn?

Cardiology | by Dr. Sabyasachi Pal | Published on 13/12/2022


Overview:

Ever experienced a burning sensation in the throat or recall always burping up after you eat? If so, then you are likely suffering from heartburn. Most people do not comprehend the severity of the condition and choose to rely on digestives and home remedies. However, there are several treatment methods which can prove effective in reducing the frequency of acidic reflux or even treating it for good. Let us explore to find out more about the condition and the different treatment options for long-term health benefits. 

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest which usually moves up to your throat. Occasionally, heartburn is common in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A typical heartburn feels like an uncomfortable burning in the centre of the chest, behind your breastbone. 

The feeling can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, or even longer depending on the medical health of the individual. Frequent heartburn can interfere with your daily routine and result in more serious problems. Therefore, it is important to address the condition for timely treatment. Read along to know more about heartburn symptoms and how you can treat them.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Heartburn?

Heartburn symptoms are often confused with a heart attack. Though you should not ignore treatment for either. While occasional heartburn is common, frequent episodes can indicate any existing medical condition. Patients with heartburn symptoms may experience - 

  • Chest pain when they bend over or lay down
  • Pressure or pain behind the breastbone
  • A  burning feeling in the chest or throat
  • A feeling of hot, sour, bitter or acidic taste at the back of the throat
  • Persistent coughing or hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing

In case these symptoms persist for more than a week, you must seek medical assistance to avoid complications.

What Causes Heartburn?

There are multiple causes of heartburn which can differ from one person to another. To understand the reasons for heartburn, it is essential to know the working of the oesophagus and the stomach. The oesophagus is basically your food pipe that passes the food down to the stomach. At the bottom of the food pipe, there is a valve (oesophagal sphincter). This valve opens to allow the food through and closes subsequently.

However, in case of acidic reflux, the valve doesn’t close properly causing some acidic mixture from the stomach goes back up to the oesophagus. This is called acidic reflux which often causes a sensation of burning. Certain factors which contribute to heartburn causes include - 

  • Pregnancy
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Certain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Post-surgery complications of cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal surgery)

Apart from this, heartburn can also be caused by certain lifestyle habits and eating disorders like consuming high quantity meals before bedtime. These risk factors do not directly cause heartburn but may trigger it. Additionally, being overweight, excessive smoking and high-stress levels contribute to acidic reflux. Certain food items like citrus fruits, high-fat foods, tomatoes, tomato-based products, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, carbonated drinks, etc. are also risk factors. 

How To Treat Heartburn?

Heartburn treatment has different aspects, depending on your health, age, history of gastrointestinal disorders and how frequently you have acid reflux. The doctor generally recommends a combination of lifestyle changes along with medications to manage discomfort and alleviate your symptoms. 

Lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms, going for walks after your meals, wearing loose clothes to prevent pressure in the abdomen, etc. It is also important to discuss your symptoms with the doctor and get a regular health checkup for effective treatment.

Additionally, in severe cases, the doctor may recommend OTC medications which are effective in managing flare-ups and cause long-term heartburn relief. Medicines for heartburn treatment include - 

  • Antacids
  • Histamine-2 blockers
  • Proton Pump inhibitors (PPIs)

Heartburn during pregnancy 

Most women often experience heartburn symptoms during pregnancy. The acid in the stomach irritates the stomach lining causing pain and a burning feeling. This is mostly due to hormonal changes, the pressure exerted by the fetus inside the womb, or when the muscles between the stomach tend to relax, the stomach acid comes back up causing irritation. 

The feeling of heartburn during pregnancy is common in the later stages of pregnancy or if you have been pregnant before. You can talk to a medical professional and discuss your symptoms for effective treatment.

 

FAQs

 

What are the complications of heartburn?

While there are no major repercussions of heartburn, prolonging the condition can cause major discomfort and inflammation in the oesophagus. People with long-term heartburn can also impact the quality of life and you may find it difficult to carry your daily routine. Also, since you may also experience irritation in the food pipe, you may become reluctant to eat anything causing malnutrition. 

 

Is heartburn dangerous?

While there are no serious repercussions of heartburn, prolonging the condition can cause inflammation of the oesophagus and increase the risk of oesophagal cancer. Prolonging the treatment can affect the digestive tract and result in malnutrition. 

 

Can gastritis cause heartburn?

Yes, gastritis can cause indigestion and heartburn which are some of the common symptoms.