Did you know that more than 60 million Americans are in pain every month because of heartburn? Heartburn is actually a common companion of people who are suffering from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Shocking Heartburn Triggers
Most of the triggers of heartburn are quite obvious: chocolate cake, chili, and tomato sauce. And you do your best to stay away from these as much as possible. But heartburn isn't only caused by food. Here are the other triggers of heartburn, which for most people can come as a shock.
As if there aren't enough reasons to quit, here's another one: smoking worsens GERD. How is this possible?
- Esophagus: Smoking weakens the valve that can be found between the esophagus and stomach. Because of this, the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus.
- Saliva: Moreover, smoking also cuts down saliva that is supposed to flush the stomach acid out of the esophagus.
- Small Intestine: It also causes fat-digesting bile salts to move from the small intestine to the stomach.
If you use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen, it's possible that you'll be more prone to heartburn along with frequent headaches.
Apart from NSAIDs, other prescription drugs can trigger heartburn too.
- calcium channel blockers (for hypertension)
- bronchodilators like albuterol (for COPD and asthma)
- drugs for osteoporosis
If you suspect that your medication is giving you heartburn, be sure to call up your doctor to inquire about this.
Fish Oil Supplements
- The Culprit is Oil: Yes, fish oil is good for you. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids that can prevent heart disease, boost intelligence, prevent depression, and relieve inflammation. Unfortunately for those who have GERD, it can also cause heartburn. The oil and not the fish is the cause of gastrointestinal side effect.
- Fish is Recommended: Take note, however, that fish is actually low in fat and high in protein so it's recommended for people who constantly have heartburn.
The common notion is that stress triggers heartburn by shooting up the production of acid in the stomach. According to a new study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, heartburn from stress is due to the effect of stress ratcheting up the pain receptors in the esophagus.
A study published in 2003 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that excess weight can increase the risk of acid reflux. This is more apparent in women particularly premenopausal women than in men.
Possible reasons include:
- poor diet
- excess abdominal fat
- chemicals released by body fat
Like other ailments, heartburn can also run in the family. In other words, if you have a family member suffering from this condition, you are also at risk of having it yourself. Experts are not sure yet how they can explain the hereditary nature of GERD, but it can be because of:
- inherited abnormalities in stomach function
- hypersensitivity to acids inside the stomach
Also called acid indigestion, Heartburn is a burning sensation felt in the chest, usually behind the breastbone. The pain that emerges from the chest radiates to the neck, throat and jaw. It is generally linked to the regurgitation of gastric acid juice. This is the leading symptom of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
If you have GERD, you'd want to avoid heartburn or acid reflux triggers at all times. Food is number one on the list, which is why it's a must to modify one's diet and stay away from these edible triggers. Below, you will find a list of the most common foods that cause acid reflux.
If you have GERD and you love chocolates, you're going to mourn over this fact: chocolates cause reflux more than any other food. It's a triple threat. For one, it contains caffeine and other stimulants like theobromine that can cause reflux. It is also high in fat (particularly white and milk chocolate) and that can also cause reflux. Finally, it's rich in cocoa, and yes you guessed it right, that can cause reflux too.
Soda is another culprit. The bubbles in soda and other carbonated drinks expand inside the stomach. This brings increased pressure that can up the risk of reflux. Soda that contains caffeine and acidic ingredients are much worse. There was a study done on the acidity of several cola brands and it was found that Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Tab were the most acidic of all. If you have GERD, it's best to stay away completely from all types of soda drinks.
Fried food is bad for another reason - it increases bad cholesterol in the body, shoots up risk for heart disease, and makes you more prone to high blood pressure among others. Other than that, it's also a major cause of reflux. Next to chocolate, it's the next food that is most commonly linked to heartburn. Deep fried foods are the worst of their kind. Buttered chicken, French fries, and doughnuts are just few of the many examples.
Although most of alcoholic beverages are not very acidic, alcohol can trigger reflux because it weakens the valve between the stomach and esophagus. The best thing to do is to abstain from alcohol beverages like beer, wine, vodka, and so on. But if you must drink, a glass of red wine a day isn't that bad.
High-Fat Dairy Products
Anything that's high in fat can cause acid reflux. If you have GERD, you need to remember to stay away from anything fatty and that includes high-fat dairy products like milk and cheese. If you want to drink milk and eat cheese so you can get the calcium and other nutrients that you need, go for those that are low in fat. You'll find these options plenty in the market.
Same is true for high-fat meats. Don't forget that these meats also stay longer in the stomach so there's greater chance of reflux with these. It's best to cut back on meat and go for leans ones. Try to limit eating it once a week.
Various medications such as proton pump inhibitors help inhibit production of stomach acid to reduce risk of heartburn. They're effective but sometimes, they don't work. And when they don't, it would be a good idea to try other measures that can give you relief from persistent heartburn.
Are You Taking It Correctly?
One possible reason the proton pump inhibitor is not working could be because you're not taking it properly. It's important to follow the specific instructions given by the doctor.
- Generally, these medications are given 30 minutes to one hour before eating breakfast.
- Some people are also advised to take another dose within the day to do away from the nighttime symptoms.
- Sometimes people only take the medicine when they are already experiencing the pain of heartburn. This is not how this medication works.
Be sure to follow the doctor's advice to the dot.
Time to Sleep
Is it your habit to hit the sack after devouring on a full meal? If yes, then it's already obvious what's causing your problem. It's very important that you don't eat a big meal right before sleeping. If you must, do this three to four hours before going to bed.
To further alleviate nighttime symptoms, elevate the head by propping several pillows underneath. You can also use a bed wedge to elevate the upper body.
The Extra Pounds
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 revealed that overweight and obese women were twice or thrice more likely to have acid reflux than their skinnier counterparts. Even moderate weight gain for people with normal weight can aggravate the symptoms linked to acid reflux. This was a finding of a survey that involved 10,500 people. It's a must to reduce your weight at least by 2.5 pounds to reduce the symptoms of reflux.
There are various drugs that can be taken to eliminate the acid.
- Tagamet HB
- Pepcid AC
- Axid AR
- Zantac 75
It's vital to remember however that these drugs cannot be taken daily because people are likely to develop tolerance.
Ditching the Triggers
Different factors can trigger an acid reflux. If you notice that onions or other spices trigger an attack, don't eat them without taking an H2 blocker at least one hour before to stop the symptoms even before they occur. If you did but you still got the heartburn, it's a must to see a doctor.
Slowly But Surely
When you eat, take time to chew your food thoroughly. A good practice would be to put down your fork in between bites so you can give yourself ample time to break down the food particles inside your mouth before you swallow.
Nicotine, which is one of the main ingredients in cigarettes, weakens the muscle that controls the opening between the esophagus and stomach. This is called the lower esophageal sphincter and it prevents the acid from the stomach from getting into the esophagus. If you smoke, you're more prone to acid reflux.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), better known as "acid reflux" to most people, is a condition that needs a lot of understanding and support from loved ones and friends. This is when the lower esophageal sphincter does not function normally, opening at varied times, resulting to a regurgitation of acidic stomach contents back up to the esophagus.
It really takes a lot to make sure that your loved one or friend with acid reflux always has as much fun as you do when you go out for a movie, shopping or dinner. Attacks of acid reflux may happen in any place at any time and it's very important to know how to deal with it.
One way to deal with acid reflux is to avoid certain foods that trigger it. Here are those foods to avoid:
1. Fruits – Fruits like orange juice, lemons/lemonade, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and tomatoes trigger the onset of GERD. These fruits are highly acidic, increasing the acidity in your stomach, causing irritation and resulting in great pain with reflux.
2. Vegetables – You could eat any kind of vegetables except for fried potatoes and raw onions. Fried potatoes or fried vegetables have high fat content that aggravates GERD. Raw onions are spicy and have sulfenic acid that adds to the acidity in your stomach.
3. Meat – Even if it is very difficult to do so, you have to remove Buffalo wings, chicken nuggets, sirloin with marbling, and ground beef from your diet. These meats have high fat content.
4. Dairy Products – Removing dairy is like removing fun from your life. But you still have to do it; so get rid of regular cottage cheese, ice cream, milk shakes, and sour cream from your list of favorite foods. These yummy treats have very high fat content.
5. Grains – Pasta is comfort food and it is the easiest to prepare on short notice aside from sandwiches. If you have to deal with acid reflux, you have to stop eating spaghetti and macaroni & cheese as well.
6. Beverages – Tea (any kind), coffee (any kind), liquors, and wines should be avoided when you have GERD. Caffeine blocks the stress management mechanism in your body and when this happens, there is acid reflux.
7. Dressing/Dips – You have to avoid using creamy salad dressings and vinaigrette in your salads. Just eat them fresh with salt and pepper. Creamy dips should also be erased from your list as well. These are very high in fat and acid so you really have to avoid them.
8. Desserts/Snacks – This may be the ultimate test because it is so hard to give up snacks and sweets. But you have to avoid fatty regular potato chips, corn chips, doughnuts, brownies, high-fat butter cookies, and chocolates.
GERD or acid reflux can be dealt with, if you know what food items to avoid. You could check out the menus of restaurants or parties before you go, so that you could just choose what you could eat beforehand. Consult your doctor or nutritionist for more possible food items, certain activities, and medications that you should avoid. Living with GERD can be done! You just have to be vigilant.
When we talk about Acid Reflux, the common term that instantly comes in our mind is heartburn. But what we don't know is that heartburn is the first symptom of acid reflux. There are also common mistakes about heartburn. People thought that the pain they felt comes from the heart. However, the truth is the pain is due to the acid in your stomach.
Okay, let's talk about acid reflux. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) or commonly known as acid reflux, is a condition in which the liquid form of the food you ate regurgitates or flows upward into the esophagus. The reflux exposes the walls of the esophagus to the gastric contents, which causes inflammation of the esophageal wall. GERD is considered a chronic disease which can be experienced by any age group and sexes.
The inability of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to fully close or its inappropriate relaxation is the main cause of GERD. The lower esophageal sphincter acts as the divider between the esophagus and the stomach. When this happens, acidic contents from the stomach during regurgitation is not blocked causing heartburn.
Other causes include eating fatty foods, caffeine, nicotine, hiatal hernia, and slow emptying of the stomach.
There are also risk factors that may cause acid reflux like:
• Consuming large meals
• Lying down after meal
• Being an overweight
• Being pregnant
The usual symptoms of GERD are:
• Chest pain or heart burn
• Dysphagia or inability to swallow
• Odynophagia or pain during swallowin
• Sore throat
Diagnostic examination helps in confirming the condition. Doctors may order test which include:
• Barium swallow - The gastrointestinal system is evaluated by swallowing an agent then an X-ray is ordered to view the structures of system.
• Endoscopy - It is a test in which a long and flexible tube is inserted down to the esophagus to check esophageal problem. In this procedure, sedatives are given to the patient prior to the insertion.
• pH monitoring - It's another test which checks the acid level of the esophagus.
Management and Treatments
Management and treatment of acid reflux include:
• Lifestyle Modification
The simple way of treating GERD is through lifestyle change, especially in the food that you are eating. Avoiding spicy and fatty food, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, citrus fruits, and dairy products may reduce the occurrence of the symptoms. Changing bad eating habits such as bending over after eating, lying down with a full stomach, and using tight garments around the waist will also help eliminating the symptoms.
• Medication Evaluation
According to the studies of World Health Organization (WHO), proton-pump inhibitors and histamine inhibitors are the recommended medications for GERD. This medication suppresses the gastric acid secretion in the stomach which controls the symptoms of GERD. It includes Cimetidine, Ranitidine, and Omeprazole.
Untreated acid reflux can cause complications like esophagitis, the inflammation of the esophageal wall; Barrett's esophagus, where the cells in the esophageal lining take on an abnormal color and shape; moreover, the cells can lead into esophageal cancer, which is very fatal. When complication arises, make sure to call and inform your physician immediately.
With lifestyle modifications and medications, treating acid reflux is never difficult.
Heartburn affects one out of 10 Americans on a weekly basis. This condition, which is not related to the heart despite of its name, can be triggered by different elements including medications, stress, or certain types of food. If you suspect of having suffered from this problem, it is important that you take time to study about it and discover effective treatment such as home remedies.
What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a painful sensation felt in the chest, particularly in the area behind the epigastrium or the breastbone. The pain may travel from the chest up to the neck and throat. It is usually associated with gastric reflux, and is in fact a major symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It occurs when the stomach acid travels upward and irritates the esophagus.
Causes and Symptoms of Heartburn
The primary cause of this problem is the failure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to keep the stomach acid inside the stomach where it belongs. This can occur where a person eats excessively or when there is too much pressure on the stomach such as during pregnancy. Also, certain foods and drinks trigger heartburn. Examples of such include tomatoes, spices, coffee, peppermint, onions, garlic, fatty dishes, and chocolate. Apart from eating, some habits can also increase the risk of this condition. People who smoke, drink alcohol, or take certain medications are more likely to experience heartburn symptoms from time to time than those who do not.
So how do you know if you are experiencing heartburn? How do you know if it is not heart attack? For one, the burning sensation is felt behind the area of the breastbone and not on the area of the chest where the heart is located. Also, you would know that it is heartburn if it occurs after eating, as it usually does. Bending over or lying down aggravates the chest pain. Moreover, a person experiences difficulty in swallowing, feels a burning sensation on the throat, and suffers from chronic cough, hoarseness, or sore throat.
Effective Home Remedies for Heartburn
Occasional heartburn can be remedied by antacids. Over-the-counter medications for heartburn such as Zantac 75, Tagamet HR, Axid AR, and Pepcid AC also provide immediate treatment for this ailment. These medications work to neutralize the stomach acid and give quick relief.
Since heartburn is triggered by certain foods, it is imperative that you consume these foods in moderation or avoid them if possible. It is important to remember however that not all foods listed under the heartburn-causing category would automatically trigger your heartburn. For example, for some people, tomatoes can instantly cause their stomach acids to revolt while for others, it's chocolates that can be found as the culprit. It is a must that you observe your daily diet so that you can determine effectively which food types cause heartburn for you.
Also, remember not to lie down after eating a big meal. If you must, add more pillows to your back to lie down in almost upright position. In serious cases, surgery may be required to stop acid reflux and heartburn altogether.