Heart Burn


General Infomation

Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest, just behind your breastbone. Heartburn pain is often worse when lying down or bending over.
Occasional heartburn is common and no cause for alarm. Most people can manage the discomfort of heartburn on their own with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.
More frequent heartburn that interferes with your daily routine may be a symptom of something more serious that requires help from a doctor.


Symptoms of heartburn include:
• A burning pain in the chest that usually occurs after eating and may occur at night
• Pain that worsens when lying down or bending over
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate help if you experience severe chest pain, especially when combined with other signs and symptoms such as difficulty breathing or jaw or arm pain. Chest pain may be a symptom of a heart attack.
Make an appointment with your doctor if:
• Heartburn occurs more than twice a week
• Symptoms persist despite use of over-the-counter medications
• You have difficulty swallowing

Causes & Complication

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus.
Normally when you swallow, your lower esophageal sphincter — a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus — relaxes to allow food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then it closes again.
However, if the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens, stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. The acid backup is worse when you're bent over or lying down.


Heartburn that occurs frequently and interferes with your routine is considered gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD treatment may require prescription medications and, occasionally, surgery or other procedures. GERD can also cause serious complications.
See your doctor if your heartburn becomes more frequent or no longer responds to over-the-counter medications. Your doctor can determine if your heartburn is likely to be a symptom of GERD.

Medication & Prevention
Treatments and Drugs: 

Many over-the-counter medications are available to relieve the pain of heartburn. Options include:
• Antacids that neutralize stomach acid. Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, Gelusil, Rolaids and Tums, may provide quick relief.
• Medications to reduce acid production. Called H-2-receptor blockers, these medications include cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR) or ranitidine (Zantac 75). H-2-receptor blockers don't act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief.
• Medications that control acid and heal the esophagus. Proton pump inhibitors block acid production and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal. Proton pump inhibitors available over-the-counter include lansoprazole (Prevacid 24 HR) and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC).
Read and follow the instructions on over-the-counter medications. If you find over-the-counter treatments don't work or you rely on them often, make an appointment with your doctor.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies: 

You may find heartburn relief by making small changes. Consider trying to:
• Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus. If your weight is healthy, work to maintain it. If you are overweight or obese, work to slowly lose weight — no more than 1 or 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week. Ask your doctor for help devising a weight-loss strategy that will work for you.
• Avoid tightfitting clothing. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
• Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn. Everyone has specific triggers, such as alcohol or tomato sauce. Avoid foods you know will trigger your heartburn.
• Eat smaller meals. Avoid overeating by eating smaller meals.
• Delay lying down after a meal. Wait at least two to three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed.
• Elevate the head of your bed. An elevation of about six to nine inches puts gravity to work for you. Place wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed at the head end. If it's not possible to elevate your bed, you can insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up. Wedges are available at drugstores and medical supply stores.
• Stop smoking. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to function properly.

Alternative Medicine: 

Anxiety and stress can worsen heartburn symptoms. Some complementary and alternative treatments may help you cope with anxiety and stress. If your heartburn is worsened by anxiety and stress, consider trying:
• Aromatherapy
• Gentle exercise, such as walking or riding a bike, but avoid vigorous exercise, which can worsen heartburn
• Hypnosis
• Listening to music
• Massage
• Relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery


By Anonymous on 02 May 2011