Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is There A Treatment For Chronic Heartburn?

If you suffer from chronic heartburn, the best treatment is the one that eliminates heartburn from your life. What’s the best way to do that? Would it be medical, using some prescription that you may be reliant on for the rest of your life? Or is it a natural remedy, a way of changing your lifestyle so that you work with your body instead of trying to fix the damage.

Before talking about heartburn treatment, let’s review what causes heartburn. Usually heartburn is causes by a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle. Heartburn is causes by that muscle being weak or relaxing when it shouldn’t. If that happens, acid from the stomach can rise back up into the esophagus, and give you that awful burning feeling.

Foods That Make A Difference

There are foods that aggravate heartburn, and other foods that can help heal the esophagus and relieve chronic heartburn. A great treatment is to eat foods that are less likely to result in heartburn.

First let’s take a look at the foods that can damage or weaken the LES. These include chocolate, greasy or fried foods, peppermint, fatty foods, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol. Also, smoking is a no-no for the LES – the nicotine in the cigarettes weaken that muscle. If you needed a reason to stop smoking and suffer from chronic heartburn, this treatment might be a great reason to quit.

Other foods can irritate the esophagus. These include citrus fruits or juices, black pepper, tomatoes or tomato-based products, and chili peppers.

Behaviors That Make A Difference

There are things you can do as a treatment for chronic heartburn. First of all, after eating, avoid bending over and lying down, as both can increase the incidence of heartburn.

Drink a small glass of water that is just warm (or herb tea) after eating can help dilute the stomach acid.

Also, saliva is a great help for chronic heartburn treatment. Saliva neutralizes stomach acid. It also helps with peristalsis – the movements that scoot the food along the digestive tract, including moving food from the stomach into the small intestines. How can you increase saliva? Chewing gum! You might try sticking in a piece of gum right after a meal and see if it helps.

Finally, eating smaller meals more frequently is better for you than eating fewer, larger meals. This is because the larger meals press against the stomach and the LES muscle, making it more likely that there will be leakage of acid. Also, eating more slowly can help as a treatment for chronic heartburn.


Causes Of Frequent Heartburn

The stomach is a marvelous organ that is critical in maintaining the health of the individual. This is because the stomach is the receptacle for the food that is eaten. It is through the processing of this food by the stomach that the major digestive action of assimilating the food into energy is accomplished. This in turn provides the proper nutrients that the body needs.

However, like any other major organ in the body, when something goes wrong, it can be extremely painful. One of those conditions that could negatively develop for the individual is the condition known as heartburn. Before talking about the causes of the frequent heartburn, it is important to know what heartburn is.

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn is that medical condition in which the sufferer experiences a burning sensation in the esophagus. Anatomically, the esophagus runs vertically from the throat area down to the stomach.

Often, the reason why the individual experiences heartburn is that hydrochloric acid, found in the stomach, is released into the esophagus and can travel in distance to an individual’s mouth. Hydrochloric acid is that secretion found in the stomach that helps in the beginnings of the digestive process.

Generally, this burning sensation is located in the middle of the chest or near the heart. Therefore, because it’s a burning sensation located near the heart, the associated pain and feeling of being on fire gives rise to the name of heartburn.

In addition to the pain experienced under the sternum or breastbone, the pain may also radiate up through the throat or near the neck area or near the jaw. Each of these individual areas may be affected or there may be a pain experienced by all of these anatomical areas. Another characteristic of heartburn can be an associated cough.

What Are Causes of Frequent Heartburn

There are several causes of frequent heartburn that may precipitate an episode or episodes of heartburn. Some of those reasons could be the individual’s dietary habits, lifestyle choices, or a malfunction within the proximal end of the stomach or a malfunctioning sphincter muscle.

For example, when it comes to dietary habits, an individual may eat a lot of acidic foods. This acidity in turn causes hyperacidity which in turn causes a need for the stomach to release excessive acid in the stomach.

Another cause of frequent heartburn in an individual may be due to lifestyle choices. Some of those lifestyle choices that can cause hyperacidity can be overeating, consuming caffeine, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, etc.

In addition, one other cause of frequent heartburn due to the release of acid from the stomach is due to the weakening of the sphincter muscle at the top portion of the stomach. If this muscle is damaged or does not hold its elasticity it allows the release of the hydrochloric acid back up into the esophagus. This is known as GERD or gastro esophageal reflux disease.

It is also important to note that many individuals who experience heartburn utilize different types of treatment methods. Some of those treatment methods can include the use of heartburn medicine, controlling diet, losing weight, or a combination of all of these treatment methods.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Over the Counter Heartburn Medicine

You recognize the signs; the painful burning that starts at about your breastbone and move up into the back of your throat. Heartburn is on the prowl once again and you need relief in the worst possible way. You head to the pharmacy to find a medication for your painful symptoms, but the shelves filled with many different over the counter heartburn medications only serves to frustrate and confuse you. Which one will meet your needs best? To help you make the right choice in over the counter heartburn medicine, you need the facts about how each medication works and how to know which one will work best for you.


Rolaids, Tums and Maalox all fall into these categories. Antacids now come in a variety of flavored chewable tablets that are supplemented with calcium, making this over the counter heartburn medicine as healthy as it is yummy. Antacids are known for working fast and working effectively on painful heartburn symptoms. You can take a roll with you so you can nip heartburn in the bud anytime and anywhere. However, antacids only provide relief for so long, and then the burning will rear its ugly head once again. So if you need fast relief, this is the over the counter heartburn medicine for you. If long term relief is what you are looking for, read on for additional options.

H-2 Blockers

Histamine-2 blockers, also known as H-2 blockers, reduce the amount of acid that your stomach produces, thereby reducing heartburn symptoms as well. These medications go by commercial names of Zantac and Pepcid. Recommendations state to take this over the counter heartburn medicine 30 minutes before eating a meal to head heartburn symptoms off at the pass. However, if the painful burning sensation has already begun, these medicines will be too slow to provide sufficient relief. Take them early, and enjoy the hours of heartburn relief that are sure to follow.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Let's say your doctor has already warned you about the painful effects of your frequent bouts of heartburn. Your esophageal lining has been damaged by the constant exposure to the harmful stomach acids, and now it needs sufficient time to heal itself back up. The best alternative medicine for heartburn is a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec. While Prilosec can now be purchased as an over the counter heartburn medicine, most doctors recommend that you talk to a physician before taking this medicine for an accurate heartburn diagnosis.

Whether your heartburn is an infrequent visitor or too familiar for comfort, an over the counter heartburn medicine might be just the ticket. Talk to your doctor about the best over the counter heartburn medicine for you and say goodbye to painful heartburn.


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