Heartburn or acid reflux is a painful type of indigestion caused by stomach acid inflaming the lining of your esophagus. The expert gastroenterologist at Stomach Pain NY in Midtown East, New York City, has considerable experience in helping patients who are having recurrent bouts of heartburn, using a holistic approach that uncovers the cause of your condition and helps you make lifestyle changes to improve your digestive health. If you regularly experience heartburn, call Stomach Pain NY today to arrange a consultation, or use the online booking form.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a common digestive problem that causes a painful burning sensation in your chest and up your esophagus. Lying down and bending over can trigger heartburn, and it often starts after a large or rich meal.
The condition is called heartburn because the burning pain isn’t far from your heart, but it actually has no connection to cardiac health. The medical name for heartburn is GERD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, and it’s also known as acid reflux.
What causes heartburn?
Heartburn occurs when the powerful acid in your stomach backs up into your esophagus. Normally the acid can’t get out of the stomach because of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which allows food and drink into your stomach but prevents anything from coming the other way back.
If the LES isn’t functioning as it should, stomach acid flows back up your esophagus, which isn’t designed to cope with the corrosive effects of the acid in the way your stomach lining is, so it becomes inflamed and painful.
Many people who have heartburn find specific foods are likely to cause an attack, especially:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Fried food
- Fizzy drinks
- Drinks containing caffeine
Heartburn often develops if you eat large meals or foods that contain high levels of fat, and being obese or pregnant also makes you more likely to experience heartburn.
Is heartburn a serious condition?
Heartburn isn’t a serious problem, provided it occurs infrequently and you know what’s triggering it. Avoiding triggers and using over-the-counter antacids to neutralize the acid should take care of the problem.
Sometimes heartburn can become a chronic condition, so you need to visit Stomach Pain NY for an exam if you’re having regular attacks of heartburn, trouble swallowing, persistent nausea or vomiting, or you’re losing weight unintentionally.
Chronic heartburn can damage the esophagus, causing narrowing and scarring, and may lead to Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.
What treatments are available for heartburn?
If your heartburn is becoming a chronic or recurrent problem, you may need medications such as H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs) or proton pump inhibitors that reduce acid production in your stomach. However, the key to dealing with heartburn is to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Eating sensible portion sizes
- Not eating late at night
If you can’t sleep very well because of heartburn, raise the head of the bed or support your upper body using a wedge.
Find out more about how to put an end to the misery of heartburn by calling Stomach Pain NY today, or book an appointment online.