Heartburn: When You Should Seek Medical Help

Millions of people today experiences heartburn. And, although it is an uncomfortable and painful condition, most people consider it is a nuisance rather than a condition. Besides, most people only experiences heartburn once or twice every month and it’s really nothing serious.

However, there are cases where heartburn can severely affect your life. Around 10 percent of the adult population experiences a chronic kind of heartburn. Chronic heartburn happens when people start experiencing the condition every single day. And, this can really have the ability to take control of your life.

Chronic heartburn will rob you of a normal life. You won’t be able to sleep because of the pain and also reduce your activities because of the discomfort you will experience from heartburn.

So, if you are experiencing heartburn, you may be wondering when you should seek professional medical help.

You have to remember that heartburn can be managed and controlled through lifestyle modifications as well as the use of antacids or acid blockers. When these methods stop working and heartburn continues to bother you despite the fact that you are doing everything you can to manage it, this is the time when you have to seek medical help.

You have to call your doctor immediately after you experience heartburn more than 3 times a week for over 2 weeks as this is a sign of a chronic case of heartburn.

Your doctor will prescribe medications to manage heartburn more effectively and make other recommendations that will help you control or manage heartburn and let you live a more normal life.

You also have to keep in mind that chronic heartburn can sometimes lead to much more serious complications, which will require you to seek immediate medical attention. If you are already throwing up blood or passing blood in your stools, experiencing dizziness, severe pain or light headedness, have difficulty in swallowing, feeling of dehydration, and you lost weight unintentionally, this is the time that you should call your doctor and go to the hospital.

What the doctor will do is conduct a series of test in order to determine what is causing you to experience chronic heartburn. One of the tests is called the upper GI endoscopy. You will be lightly sedated and a special camera will be used to take a look at your esophagus and your stomach.

This way, the doctor conducting the procedure will be able to see how much damage has been done to the esophagus from stomach acid.

The specialist may also conduct a diagnosis where they will test the strength of your LES muscle, which is basically a valve that separates the stomach acid from your esophagus. This test is called esophageal manometry.

You may also be subjected to a procedure called the 24 hours pH monitoring. This measures the strength of your stomach acid and a thin tube will be passed through your nose and in to your esophagus. The test will measure the amount of acid reflux that occurs while you do your daily and regular activities for 24 hours.

After the diagnosis, you will get treatment for your heartburn as well as for the complications heartburn had on your body, especially on your esophagus.

These are the things that you have to remember if you experience chronic heartburn. Always remember that if you are already experiencing heartburn at least 3 times every week for 2 weeks, this is the time that you should seek medical help. This may be a sign that you may be experiencing a more serious condition.

Heartburn: Drugs and Surgery

Like you, millions of people today suffer from heartburn and most of them are constantly searching for drugs and treatment methods for relief. You have to keep in mind that heartburn is a condition that existed for thousands of years and modern medicine have yet to find a cure for this condition.

You also have to understand that heartburn is in no way related to the heart. It’s simply called heartburn because you will feel a burning sensation on your chest. Heartburn is in fact a digestive condition. This is where the stomach acid comes in contact with the esophagus causing irritation and ultimately causing heartburn. And, you will also taste something bitter or sour when you experience heartburn. This is mainly the stomach acid reaching your throat and mouth.

Most people treat heartburn symptoms through lifestyle modification and the use of antacids. But, for some people, this doesn’t work. If you still suffer from heartburn symptoms despite making lifestyle changes and using antacids, it may be a sign that you are suffering from a more serious condition where heartburn is only a symptom.

If this is so, then your health care provider or doctor may prescribe you some of these drugs.

After antacids, the next group of drugs that you may need to take for easing heartburn symptoms is histamine-2 blockers. Most drugs of this type may be purchased over the counter and what it does is that it decreases the amount of acid that your stomach produces.

Usually, they are taken twice a day and they provide relief from heartburn within 30 minutes of taking it. You have to remember that although it can be purchased over the counter, you still need a doctor’s prescription for higher doses.

If you still continue to experience heartburn, the doctor may recommend adding a drug, such as metoclopramide. This drug will empty food and acid from your stomach quickly. This will lessen the amount of food and acid traveling back in to the esophagus. It will also help tighten the LES or lower esophageal sphincter muscle to keep stomach acid inside the stomach.

Proton pump inhibitors may also be prescribed by your doctor if you continue to experience heartburn. This type of drug will prevent the stomach from secreting acid. Usually taken once a day, these drugs are usually very effective in easing heartburn symptoms. And, these drugs are usually prescribed if no other drugs helped your heartburn condition.

There are also surgical procedures that can help your problem with heartburn. Surgery is usually done if no prescription drugs helped in relieving heartburn or if you are already experiencing serious complications from heartburn. The surgery is a simple procedure and is called fundoplication. This procedure will tighten your LES muscle and the muscle will be tied in such a way to prevent acid from flowing back in to the esophagus.

This surgical procedure produced 85 percent success rate and is the last resort for treating heartburn.

These are the different types of drugs and surgery that you can consider if you are suffering from heartburn. If antacids no longer work, you may want to try and consulting your doctor about your heartburn problem. They may prescribe the mentioned drugs and may even recommend surgery if the drugs no longer work in providing relief from heartburn.