Heartburn is a common and bothersome digestive disorder. While seeing a gastroenterologist is important to ensure you’re not suffering from a more serious issue, there are steps you can take to reduce symptoms. The following explains why heartburn occurs and what you can do about it.
A Guide for Heartburn Sufferers
Causes of Heartburn
This digestive disorder occurs when stomach acids back up into the esophagus. This improper flow of stomach acid stems from problems with the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle that allows food and liquid into your stomach. If this muscle is weak or damaged, the digestion process can be disrupted.
There are many causes of lower esophageal sphincter debilitation. If you’re overweight or often overeat, you may be placing undue strain on this muscle. Smoking introduces harmful chemicals that damage the muscle over time.
Certain foods and beverages also increase your risk. Spicy foods, chocolate, citrus fruits, and fatty or fried items are considered common triggers. Alcohol can also interfere with proper lower esophageal sphincter as it relaxes your muscles, increases your stomach acid, and in excessive quantities may damage the lining of your esophagus.
Lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, weight loss, and avoiding certain foods may mitigate the incidence and severity of heartburn.
Symptoms of Heartburn
A burning sensation in the chest is the most prevalent symptom of heartburn. This sensation may worsen at night or when bending over. If you suffer from this digestive disorder, you may also experience a bitter taste in the mouth as a result of rising stomach acid. While these symptoms aren’t necessarily harmful, they can be unpleasant and limit your ability to enjoy daily life. Heartburn that occurs frequently over an extended period may lead to grievous health impacts.
When You Should See a Doctor
Speak with a GI doctor if your heartburn happens frequently, such as more than twice a week. Discomfort accompanied by bouts of vomiting, bleeding, or nausea should also be assessed immediately, as should symptoms that don’t respond to common over-the-counter treatments. Heartburn should not be confused with a heart attack. If heartburn is accompanied by heart attack symptoms such as severe chest pain, problems breathing, or pain that extends to the arm or jaw, seek emergency medical care immediately.
If you frequently experience heartburn and over-the-counter antacids aren’t enough to help, Naugatuck Valley Gastroenterology Consultants is here to assist. Based in Prospect, CT, these gastroenterologists thoroughly evaluate digestive disorders and offer effective procedures for rapid relief. Beyond heartburn, they also provide care for acute and chronic conditions like constipation, nutrient malabsorption, diverticulitis, gastro-esophageal reflux, and ulcers. Their state-of-the-art facility is equipped to perform procedures like upper and lower endoscopies, liver biopsies, and cancer screenings. Schedule an appointment today by calling (203) 756-6422. Visit them online to see their complete list of services.