Acid Reflux, Heartburn, & Dyspepsia

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Heartburn is usually a burning pain in the lower chest along with a sour or bitter taste in the throat. Some also feel bloated, an upset stomach with burping. It is caused by stomach acid spilling up to oesophagus(reflux), the tube leading from your stomach up to your mouth. Normally, as the food passes into the stomach, the opening between the stomach and oesophagus closes. However, as in the case of hiatal hernia, when upper parts of the stomach squeezes thru the diaphragm (the muscle separating the chest from abdomen) and enters the thoracic cavity, this closure may not work. It can also be caused by certain types of food, habits, and lifestyles increasing stomach acidity as well as medicines and diseases such as ulcers. If it is not prevented or treated, continous irritation of oesophagus can lead to inflammation, bleeding and trouble with swallowing. Therefore, if you have heartburn/dyspepsia as some people perceive as indigestion see your physician if you:

  • Are older than 50 years
  • Recently lost weight unintentionally.
  • Have trouble swallowing
  • Have bloody, dark and black stools.
  • Have vomiting
  • Feel a lump in lower chest or stomach.
  • Vomit blood
  • Break out in a sweat with chest pain.
  • Are dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Chest pain going to your neck and shoulder
  • Have shortness of breath
  • Have heartburn more than 3 times a week ongoing for more than 2 weeks.

Millions of people suffer from heartburn and many take pills, thanks to aggressive pill ads which do not contain any preventive measures! As a matter of fact, heartburn can well be avoided with the following guidelines, which lead to a healthy lifestyle before switching to pills:

  • Decrease intake of coffee, alcohol and colas.
  • Stop or reduce smoking.
  • Avoid acidic, spicy and fatty foods(tomatoes, chocolate, citrus fruit juices).
  • Eat frequently small amounts, slowly and chew them well.
  • Do not lay down before 3 hours after you eat.
  • Take naps on a lazy boy.
  • Don’t exercise until 2 hours after you eat (cramps).
  • Lose extra weight. Being overweight enlarges your belly, increases pressure on the stomach causing reflux.
  • Do not wear tight clothes or belts especially under your stomach.
  • Elevate the head of your bed by placing 5″ blocks.
  • Keep away from medicines containing ibupofen, naproxen or aspirin.

If these measures do not help, try some antacids containing both magnesium and aluminum hydroxide. Or you can try over the counter Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. However, if you need to use these pills all the time, see your doctor.

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