What is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a sensation of burn on the chest. It usually becomes worse when sleeping or lying down.
Almost all people experience this sensation occasionally.
The management of heartburn depends mainly on adopting healthy lifestyle and using some medications. Sometimes this burning sensation affects the life of the patient; in this case, he must seek medical consultation as soon as possible to manage this condition.
Heartburn Symptoms: When, Why and How?
As I said before, heartburn is described by the patient as a sensation of burning in the chest. It becomes worse when sleeping, lying down, or bending forward. It may disappear within minutes or persist for many hours. Following are the most common symptoms of heartburn:
- Sensation of burn in the chest
- Sensation of pressure in the middle of the chest
- Sensation of a food in the throat
- Sensation of acid taste in the mouth
- Sensation of discomfort after eating
Heartburn Before Bowel Movement
Constipation may cause heartburn. That’s true! In fact heartburn is one of the symptoms of chronic constipation. Constipation causes accumulation of waste materials in the colon, with time this will inhibit the motility of the digestive tract muscles leading to relaxation of the stomach entrance muscles; this will increase the reflux of gastric acids up to the esophagus causing the symptom of heartburn. Once you treat the underlying constipation, your heartburn will be relived spontaneously.
Heartburn and Colon Health Relation
You may be wondering how are heartburn and colon health related! Heartburn is a general symptom and its persistence despite proper medical treatment indicates that there is another digestive problem rather than simple reflux. Many colon conditions may cause heartburn; the most common among them is inflammatory bowel diseases especially Crohn’s disease as it causes ulceration along the digestive system leading to heartburn.
Add to that, chronic constipation may be the cause of chronic acid reflux thus causing chronic heartburn. The rule is to exclude other common conditions but at the same time to keep the other, less common, causes in consideration too.
How are Heartburn and Colon Cancer Related?
All of us experience occasionally a mild degree of heartburn, but some of people have this sensation almost all the time. Having severe prolonged form of heartburn may be an early sign of more serious disease in the digestive tract; for example, colon cancer.
If you have severe form of heartburn that is not responding well to lifestyle changes and medications, you have to consult your doctor as soon as possible to investigate the real cause of your persistent heartburn.
People who are suffering from heartburn occasionally may use antacids to relieve their symptoms. More severe symptoms can be managed with proton pump inhibitors. Lots of medications are available; some of them are over the counter and the others are prescribed. Surgery is the last option and it’s rarely required. The main principle in managing heartburn is finding the underlying etiology.
Antacids mainly act to neutralize the acidity of the stomach. If you are using antacids and there is no improvement, your doctor may prescribe you one of the proton pump inhibitors drugs; such as, Protonix.
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Heartburn Advice from the Experts
Experts said that there are mainly three major types of medications that are used to treat heartburn; those are antacids, proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers. Good examples on antacids are Maalox and Tums. The most popular proton pump inhibitor is Prilosec while the most popular H2 blocker is Zantac.
It’s very important to determine the best medication for your heartburn; this depends mainly on the frequency of the heartburn and its effects on your life. If you have heartburn accidentally, antacids are the best medications for you while you have more severe heartburn, proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers are more suitable for you.
It’s always recommended to consult your doctor before using any of the previous medications. The doctor role is very essential in differentiating simple heartburn from gastroesophageal reflux disease which is a serious disease because it may lead to different types of cancer; for example, esophageal cancer, and stomach cancer.
Heartburn Prevention: Tips on How to Avoid Heartburn
Following are simple tips that can help you to prevent heartburn:
- Don’t eat before you sleep: I advise you to eat at least two hours before sleeping
- Eat less amount of food: Try to divide your meals into five small ones instead of three large ones
- Don’t eat rapidly: Eat in a slow mode
- Don’t wear tight clothes
- Avoid eating triggering foods; for example, onions, chocolate, coffee, tomatoes, fruits
- Control your weight: being obese, increasing your heartburn symptoms
- Avoid smoking: nicotine is a major risk factor for heartburn
- Reduce your alcohol consumption