Heartburn, It’s Causes, Symptoms and the Best Ways to Treat and Prevent It

symptoms of heartburn can indicate a more serious condition or how best to prevent and treat heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning pain in the chest which can be accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth and slight regurgitation in the throat. Normally, when we swallow, the esophagus relaxes to allow for the intake of food and beverages and tightens once again afterward. If the esophageal muscles weaken or do not perform properly, stomach acid can flow back up into the esophagus, resulting in heartburn symptoms.

The causes of heartburn may be as simplistic as overeating, eating spicy foods like pepperoni or onions, eating greasy or heavy, rich, fatty foods, eating acidic foods or beverages such as tomato sauce or orange juice, consuming alcohol or caffeinated drinks including coffee, tea or soda, or eating just before bed.

Although most of us suffer from heartburn from time to time and occasional heartburn is usually nothing to worry about, more frequent heartburn can be a sign of potentially dangerous conditions. When heartburn becomes persistent to the point that it interferes with your activities of daily living, you should seek medical care.

When heartburn is accompanied by severe chest pain and/or pressure, difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, nausea and/or vomiting, it could mean you are experiencing a heart attack. In this instance you should seek immediate medical attention. 

Heartburn can also turn into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if it becomes chronic. GERD, which may require prescription medication, surgery or other procedural treatment, can create serious esophagus damage as well as lead to a precancerous condition called Barrett’s Syndrome. 

A doctor can help determine if your heartburn is problematic or potentially dangerous. For diagnosis, your doctor may use imaging to get a good look at your esophagus and stomach. Esophageal motility testing measures movement and pressure within the esophagus. An upper endoscopy, a procedure in which a flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted down the throat, may also be used to gain a better visual. Ambulatory acid probe tests – which are the use of an acid monitor which is placed within the esophagus and connected to a small computer that is worn around the waist or strapped over the shoulder – are sometimes utilized to determine when and measure how long stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. A tissue sample may also be taken to check for any abnormalities. Stress and certain medications and vitamins can exacerbate heartburn symptoms, so you should tell your doctor about those as well.

Lifestyle changes can often help ease the symptoms and pain associated with heartburn. These include maintaining a healthy weight, as added pounds can place pressure on the abdomen and, subsequently, force stomach acid up into the esophagus. Of course, those people who suffer from heartburn should also avoid overeating and ingesting foods and beverages which can cause heartburn. Alcohol consumption and smoking can decrease the proper function of the lower esophageal sphincter, so they should also be avoided. Try not to overeat and wait a few hours before lying down after eating. Additionally, believe it or not, tight fitting clothing can also create abdominal pressure, driving stomach acids up where they don’t belong, so avoid snug waistbands. You can also raise the head of your bed so that you sleep with your body elevated from the waist up. This may help keep stomach acids from creeping up the esophagus.

There are also over the counter medications which can be taken to alleviate the symptoms of heartburn, including antacids, which quickly neutralize stomach acids. H-2 receptor antagonists don’t work as quickly as antacids, but they may provide longer relief; and there are also proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium and Prilosec, to reduce stomach acids. However, if any over the counter medications are used too often or for too long, they may begin to lose their effectiveness. At that point, prescription medications may become necessary.

Riverside Clinical Research is currently conducting heartburn clinical research trials. Our mission is to make the world a better place, with a future filled with hope and incredible medical possibilities. Through vigilant monitoring and testing and with persistent dedication, the Riverside Clinical Research study team works tirelessly toward developing crucial interventions that could help both our clinical trial volunteers and the greater community as a whole.

Developing a greater understanding of certain conditions and gaining approval for new treatments can be a long process. Clinical trial participants often have access to innovative medications and therapies well before they become available to the general public through commercial markets. Clinical study volunteers are also able to take a more active part in their own healthcare. In addition, Riverside Clinical Research volunteers are paid for their time, there are no costs for the medical procedures or treatments provided and there is no insurance necessary to participate.

If you would like to play an integral role in enhancing medical evaluation and care, as well as take advantage of the personal benefits of becoming a Riverside Clinical Research volunteer, call 386-428-7730 Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Friday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m for more information or to see if you are a qualified candidate.

You are also welcome to enroll with Riverside Clinical Research so that you may be contacted about studies conducted in your area. Simply access the patient portal on our website. Riverside Clinical Research can also be reached by email at info@riversideclinicalresearch.com.  

The Riverside Clinical Research doctors and experienced research personnel work one-on-one with clinical trial volunteers to monitor and assess the benefits and effectiveness of certain treatments. Riverside Clinical Research facility can support up to 26 in-house patients and a large number of outpatients and is conveniently located at 1410 S. Ridgewood Avenue in Edgewater, Florida.