Heartburn FAQs

This is your heartburn guide that provides heartburn information to those of you searching for a heartburn free life.  You’ll also find a few Heartburn Tips here that should help you with many of your heartburn problems and with your search for heartburn relief. If you need additional help for your heartburn or indigestion problems then feel free to send your questions to [email protected].  If you want a comprehensive book that will answer all of these questions and more you definitely need to check out The Heartburn Cure.  This is a 110-page book dedicated entirely to curing your heartburn naturally… no more pills! 

Heartburn FAQ

What is Heartburn?
Despite its name, heartburn does not affect the heart. Heartburn is a burning feeling in the lower chest, along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat and mouth. It usually occurs after eating a big meal or while lying down. The feeling can last for a few minutes or a few hours.  It is sometimes mistaken for more serious conditions such as pain due to heart disease.

Why did I get Heartburn?
Heartburn problems typically occur because of overeating or eating the wrong foods (rich or spicy).

Is there heartburn in children?
Yes.  When children have heartburn it’s usually the result of something they’re born with.

Is there a way of curing heartburn?
Drinking low-fat milk or chewing gum may alleviate the symptoms.

How do I prevent heartburn from recurring?
The best thing you can do is determine the bad foods of heartburn for you and avoid them. These are considered heartburn trigger foods.

What causes Heartburn?
As you eat, food passes from your mouth down your esophagus into your stomach. Before food enters your stomach it must pass through an opening between the esophagus and stomach called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). This opening acts like a gate to allow food to pass into the stomach. Usually the LES closes as soon as food passes through. But if it doesn’t close then acid from your stomach can get through the opening and into your esophagus. This is called reflux, acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux. Stomach acid can irritate the esophagus and cause the heartburn pain.

What is Hiatal Hernia?
Hiatal hernia is a condition where part of the stomach is pushed up through the diaphragm (the muscle wall between the stomach and chest) and into the chest. Sometimes this causes heartburn.

What Factors Add to Heartburn?
Many things can cause additional heartburn problems. Heartburn is most common after overeating, when bending over or when lying down. Pregnancy, tight clothing especially around the waist that puts pressure on your stomach, stress, and certain foods can also make heartburn worse.

Can Heart Burn Be Serious?
If you have heartburn or acid indigestion problems on occasion then it is probably not serious. But if you get heartburn frequently it can develop into esophagitis, which is the inflamed lining of the esophagus. If esophagitis becomes severe then your esophagus could narrow and cause problems swallowing and possibly bleeding.  If you get more than occasional heartburn then it may be a symptom of acid reflux disease also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or you could even have an inflamed stomach lining (gastritis) or a peptic ulcer.

Can antacid tablets and other over-the-counter remedies help ease heartburn problems?
Yes. There are antacids and acid blockers (also called H2 blockers) available over the counter. The acid blockers block the release of acid and take about an hour to kick in and work.  For these to really help heartburn you should take them before you eat. These acid blockers typically last around 9 to 12 hours. Make sure to ask your doctor about acid blocker medications as they can cause side effects or drug interactions. If you already have indigestion problems, an antacid can give you fast, short-term relief. The antacids neutralize the acid in your stomach and esophagus, they’re fast acting, and they’ll help indigestion for about 1 to 2 hours. If you’ve been experiencing long-term or frequent heartburn then you should see your doctor. The use of over-the-counter medications may mask a more serious condition like GERD.

What if My Symptoms Get Worse?
If the heartburn lifestyle changes and antacids aren’t curing your heartburn symptoms then you should talk with your doctor about your digestion problems. Your doctor may prescribe heartburn medication or perform some tests. The tests might include x-rays to check for ulcers, a pH test to check for acid in the esophagus, or an endoscopy to check for other conditions. During an endoscopy, your doctor looks into your stomach through a long thin tube, which is inserted down your esophagus. Your doctor may also check for H. pylori, which is a bacteria that can cause ulcers.

What about Medicines for Heartburn?
Several kinds of medicine can be used as heartburn treatment procedures. H2 blockers (some brand names: Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. Several are available without a prescription. Other medicines, such as omeprazole (brand name: Prilosec) and lansoprazole (brand name: Prevacid), also reduce how much acid the stomach makes. Metoclopramide (brand name: Reglan) reduces acid reflux. To find out what medicine is right for you, talk with your doctor.

What Surgical Heartburn Treatment is Available?
When your symptoms are severe and medical treatment isn’t curing your hiatal hernia symptoms then your doctor may recommend corrective surgery to prevent heartburn/acid reflux. The surgical procedure is called fundoplication, which involves replacing the stomach back to its original position under the diaphragm. The surgeon then wraps and stitches the upper few centimeters of the stomach around the oesophagus (gullet) to prevent heartburn (reflux) from recurring. This operation can be carried out either by traditional open surgery or by keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery.

Is Heartburn Associated with Heart Attacks?
No. But sometimes pain in the chest may be mistaken for heartburn when it is really a sign of heart disease. Call your doctor if:

  • You’re short of breath
  • You’re vomiting blood
  • You break out in a sweat when you have pain in your chest.
  • You have bloody or black stools
  • You’re dizzy or light-headed
  • You’re experiencing pain going into your neck and shoulder
  • You’re having difficulty swallowing or it’s painful to swallow
  • You have heartburn often (more than 3 times a week) for more than 2 weeks

What should I do if my heartburn gets worse?
If your condition does not respond to over-the-counter treatments after two weeks, see a doctor. You may be at risk for serious inflammation of the esophagus. Also, if you have difficulty swallowing, you may have an underlying condition that requires the attention of a healthcare professional. Do not continue to self-medicate.

Why is heartburn sometimes called acid indigestion?
The burning sensation of heartburn is caused when the acids from your stomach travel up to your esophagus. The acids in your stomach are quite normal. In fact, that’s what helps to digest your food. And your stomach has a protective lining that can shield against these acids. However, your esophagus does not have this lining and is very sensitive to gastric acid. Fortunately the symptoms of heartburn/acid indigestion can be treated with over-the-counter medications like Tagament HB 200®.

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