January 05, 2022

When Heartburn May Be Something More Serious

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We’ll all have occasional heartburn, but experts caution that it shouldn’t come all that often.

If you’re suffering from heartburn at least once a week, it is more likely GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) than just a case of heartburn, otherwise known as acid reflux.

And studies show that nearly a third of all U.S. adults may be affected by GERD each week, even when taking over-the-counter medications to try and keep symptoms at bay.

Center’s Healthcare has a look at how GERD can be treated and—hopefully—eliminated.

Over-the-Counter Medications

GERD occurs when acid from the stomach flows back up into the esophagus. Over time, that can damage the esophagus and even potentially lead to cancer.

In addition to lifestyle changes discussed below, usually over-the-counter medications like Nexium, Pepcid, or Prilosec along with antacids like Tums can help. That’s usually where a doctor will start when trying to treat GERD.

Lifestyle Changes

There are several things you can do to help lessen the effects or eliminate frequent heartburn altogether. It starts with paying attention to the foods that you eat and which may trigger heartburn afterwards, and then start avoiding those foods.

In addition, quitting smoking, avoiding eating within three hours of bedtime, placing blocks under the posts of your bed to raise the head of it, and even avoiding tight clothing (which can force stomach acid upward) are all non-medication interventions you can try to see if you can resolve symptoms naturally.

Prescription Medication

Among the more advanced treatments for heartburn include H2 blockers that provide short-term relief and proton pump inhibitors that are more of a long-term solution. A non-invasive surgery that helps reinforce muscles that help keep stomach acid where it belongs has also been used to relieve more severe cases of GERD.

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