What is a heartburn?
Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is when the contents of food one eats are driven back up to the esophagus and cause a burning sensation in the lower chest more than twice a week. If it is less than twice a week it is referred to as Acid reflux. It is common for people to experience heartburn every now and then and is considered normal, the trouble starts when the number of times it occurs starts to increase. The problem is not specific to age or gender and can be seen in people of all age groups. It is commonly caused by habits such as smoking or getting little to no exercise and being obese. Essentially the burn is caused by stomach acid being driven up the esophagus, which is the tube that links the mouth to the stomach, however the amount of acid and the amount of food being driven up varies greatly from patient to patient.
Normally, heartburns aren’t concerning and should not be given much thought, but if the heartburns are recurring and are causing too much discomfort the patient is suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux, which is not fatal but can still cause huge amounts of discomfort and pain.
Symptoms of heartburn
The symptoms of heartburn and/or GERD:
- Burning and indigestion types of pains.
- Pain that rises through the stomach, reaching the jaw at times.
- A burning sensation in the chest.
- A bad pungent taste in the mouth.
While these symptoms are usually common, if they become frequent for someone they should go and consult their doctor or seek a gastroenologist.
Treatment of heartburn
The most common solution to recurring heartburn is to simply reduce stomach acids. The following are some lifestyle changes that patients can make to help ensure that they are cured of acid reflux or to at least deter it:
- Eating smaller meals.
- Reducing weight if one is obese.
- Reducing or stopping smoking.
- Regular exercise.
- Limited fat intake.
- Being active, not lying down for too long.
- Watching the intake of certain things that can trigger the heartburn such as spices, warm food, alcohol etc.
The most essential part is to consult your doctor at every step of the way, until and unless the doctor feels that the heartburn recurrence is abnormal (too high), they will not prescribe medicines, this can also vary according to a patient’s condition. The basic premise is basically that the problem can be solved easily through simple lifestyle changes, medicine should always be a last resort, while the medicines normally don’t have side effects or such issues, they can often pose a new set of discomforts with patients.