Thursday, September 24, 2020

Heartburn or GERD? Here’s What You Should Know


Heartburn is an extremely unpleasant sensation, right? But do you know what the triggers are and how to avoid them?

The unpleasant sensations of feeling like your chest is on fire and that fire is moving right up your throat into your mouth leaving a bitter taste!

And “nothing” quenches that awful fire or taste!

A lot of people experience it once in a while, especially after large family meals or drinking too much.

It affects everyone differently and the reaction to the same foods or situations differently.

Finding your triggers can help you eliminate and/or prevent heartburn.

Common Causes of Heartburn

  •        Eating large meals, especially late in the day.
  •        Fried foods in oils and grease.
  •        Caffeine drinks, such as coffee and sodas.
  •        Citric acid, from various fruits such as oranges and tomatoes, including juice.
  •        Sugar and sweets, especially chocolate. But for different people, anything sweet can trigger it.
  •        Alcohol affects some people.
  •        Garlic and onion, some peppers affect some people.
  •        Spicy foods, pasta sauces and salsa
  •        Mint in any form
  •        Carbonated drinks

If you aren’t sure what foods or drinks are causing your heartburn, eliminate all the foods known to cause heartburn from your diet. Then add the foods back one at a time.

Non-Prescription Medicines

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter antacids, which you can buy such as antacids. This would include Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids, and Riopan.

Calcium carbonate antacids, such as Tums, Titralac, and Alka-2, can also be a supplemental source of calcium.

H2 blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR), and ranitidine (Zantac 75), impede acid production. They are available in prescription strength and over the counter.

If your condition persists after using these over the counter medications, you should consult your doctor or healthcare provider.

Making Lifestyle Changes

  •        If you are overweight, lose weight
  •        If you smoke, it’s recommended you stop smoking
  •        Eat smaller meals at a time
  •        Don’t lay down for 2 to 3 hours after eating
  •        Raise the head of your bed by 6″ to 8″, using wood or concrete blocks. (This does work, I did it.) Adding pillows doesn’t really elevate your body.

If Your Heartburn Continues To Worsen

There is a more serious condition called Reflux Esophagitis, also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Approximately 25 percent of the USA population experiences reflux esophagitis.

Inflammation of the esophagus from stomach acid causes bleeding or ulcers. Also, scars from tissue damage can narrow the esophagus and make swallowing difficult.

Some people develop Barrett’s esophagus, where cells in the esophageal lining take on an abnormal shape and color, which over time can lead to cancer.

Studies have shown that asthma, chronic cough, and pulmonary fibrosis may be aggravated or even caused by GERD.

Contact Your Doctor If:

  •       Your symptoms become more severe and frequent.
  •       Swallowing is difficult or painful.
  •       You have nausea or vomiting with heartburn.
  •       Drastic weight loss.
  •       Over-the-counter medicine isn’t working, and/or you have been on it for more than 2 weeks or longer than the instructions on the label or from your doctor.
  •       You experience hoarseness, wheezing or asthma.
  •       You have extreme stomach pain, diarrhea or black or bloody bowel movements.

There are prescription medications that really work well. So if you are really suffering your doctor can prescribe you something that should completely relieve the symptoms.

Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on
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