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Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is a very common digestive condition characterized by a burning sensation in the chest, just behind the breastbone. Heartburn really has nothing to do with the heart itself but rather originates from the stomach or the lower part of the esophagus.
At the bottom of the esophagus, there is a muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that prevents stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus. In some cases, the LES may not function correctly, permitting stomach acid to escape into the esophagus. This is known as acid reflux, and it can cause irritation and inflammation of the esophageal lining, resulting in a painful “burning” feeling.
Although everyone experiences heartburn similarly, women are more likely to describe their pain as sharp or burning, whereas men often describe it as pressure or squeezing in the chest.
Triggers for heartburn include:
Obesity or excess weight
Spicy, fatty or acidic foods
Coffee, tea, carbonated or alcoholic drinks
Symptoms vary among individuals. Not every sufferer will present all these symptoms.
Sour or acidic taste in the mouth
Irritation of the throat
Burning sensation behind the breastbone
There are several prescription medications available that can help manage heartburn and related conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Currently we prescribe proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole, esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and pantoprazole), H2 Blockers (ranitidine, famotidine, and cimetidine), and prokinetics (metoclopramide, domperidone, and erythromycin).
Our board-certified doctors can analyze your symptoms and determine the best treatment option. You can obtain acid reflux medications online through the medical care professionals at CallonDoc.
The duration of heartburn medication usage can vary depending on the underlying condition, the severity of the patient’s symptoms, and the treatment goals. In some cases, medications may be prescribed on a short-term basis for relief of heartburn symptoms. With other patients, long-term management or maintenance therapy with GERD meds, under the guidance of a licensed clinician, may be necessary.
Small to moderate amounts of water can help to dilute stomach acid. In addition, ginger tea, non-caffeinated herbal teas, aloe vera juice (made for human consumption), milk, and non-citrus fruit juices (without added sugars or artificial sweeteners) can reduce symptoms of heartburn and improve digestive health. Note that not everyone reacts in the same way to these kinds of liquids. Milk, for example, helps some chronic acid reflux sufferers but worsens symptoms in others.
Store-bought antacids can provide fast heartburn relief for persons with occasional episodes, but they will not address any underlying condition that may be causing acid reflux. These products are not intended for long-term usage. Severe conditions need to be diagnosed by a gastroenterologist.
Effective acid reflux and GERD treatment online is available right here at CallonDoc. Our board-certified physicians can prescribe the medications you need to relieve acid reflux symptoms and improve your digestive health.
Yes, heartburn can cause nausea, as the regurgitation of stomach acid into the esophagus can sometimes irritate the stomach lining and trigger a sensation of queasiness or nausea in some individuals. The combination of stomach acid irritation and the close proximity of the esophagus and stomach to each other can lead to these interconnected symptoms.
Yes, heartburn can sometimes cause back pain, particularly if the acid reflux irritates the nerves in the lower part of the esophagus or affects the diaphragm, which can refer pain to the back. However, it's important to distinguish heartburn-related back pain from other potential causes of back pain, and any persistent or severe back pain should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Yes, heartburn can cause chest pain, often described as a burning sensation or discomfort in the chest area, which can be mistaken for heart-related pain.
While heartburn itself is typically not life-threatening, chronic and severe cases can lead to complications such as esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, or esophageal cancer, which can have serious health consequences. It's essential to manage and treat chronic heartburn to prevent potential complications and consult a healthcare provider for persistent or severe symptoms.
Yes, heartburn can occasionally cause shortness of breath, especially when stomach acid irritates the lower part of the esophagus or the diaphragm, which can lead to a sensation of breathlessness. However, it's important to differentiate heartburn-related shortness of breath from other potential causes of breathing difficulties and consult a healthcare provider if you experience persistent or severe symptoms.
Yes, heartburn can be a common symptom of pregnancy due to hormonal changes that relax the lower esophageal sphincter and the pressure of the growing uterus on the stomach, leading to increased acid reflux. It's often experienced by pregnant women, especially in the later stages of pregnancy