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By: Elena Jamscek, PA-C

So…heartburn doesn’t actually involve the heart, but it DOES burn

Heartburn is caused when acid from the stomach goes upward (the wrong way) and irritates the esophagus (the food tube) which is between the mouth and the stomach.  Heartburn can become worse after overeating, when bending over, during pregnancy, or with certain foods such as

  • Cigarettes
  • Coffee
  • Citrus fruits like orange/grapefruit
  • Tomato products (including pizza)
  • Chocolate, mints
  • Spicy foods
  • Onions

Heartburn isn’t serious if it occurs infrequently. 

Frequent heartburn may be a symptoms of other more serious problems.

  • GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease)
  • GASTRITIS (inflamed stomach lining)
  • HIATAL HERNIA (the stomach moves upward through a hole in the diaphragm)
  • ULCER (eroding of the stomach lining)

To prevent GERD, avoid triggers

  • quit smoking,
  • lose weight if overweight,
  • don’t overeat
  • avoid eating less than 3 hours before bedtime.

Antacids like Maalox and Mylanta are over the counter medications that can help the every now and then symptoms.  Medicines like ranitidine and omeprazole can help for the symptoms that are more common but not every day to reduce acid production.

Medical attention is needed if symptoms are more than 3 x week, you have shortness of breath, dizziness, pain radiating into neck of shoulder, sweating with pain in the chest, blood in either vomit or stool.