Heartburn doesn’t involve your heart, but it is a real pain in your chest and throat. This widespread condition occurs when you experience acid reflux. Your stomach lining is strong enough to deal with the damaging effects of digestive juices. But the lining of your esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach, is more sensitive.
According to heartburn experts, continuous exposure to excess stomach acid can cause more serious complications.
Your esophagus tries to heal itself by forming scar tissue over areas that your stomach acid damaged. The dense, fibrous connective tissue that grows over wounds is thicker than the normal lining, so it narrows your esophageal tube. Swelling also may occur, which could constrict your esophagus even more. Large pieces of food can get lodged in narrowed sections, making swallowing more difficult.
Inflammation, swelling, or irritation of your esophagus can cause a feeling that something is stuck in your throat, pain, and difficulty swallowing. You may experience a burning sensation in your esophagus and even bleeding in vomit or stools. .
Ulcers of the esophagus:
Acidic damage in your esophagus can lead to ulcers. These wounds can become painful. You may have the sensation of something wedged in your throat. Swallowing food and beverages can be challenging and irritating. Ulcers also may lead to bleeding.
Cells in your food pipe respond to repeated stomach acid exposed by changing themselves to look more like the cells in your small intestine. This uncommon but serious condition has no symptoms. The only way to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus is to have an exploratory endoscopy. A doctor directs a tube with a camera on the end down your throat to examine your esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus can be dangerous because it increases your risk of developing cancer of the esophagus. It requires ongoing monitoring to check for this additional complication.
Acid Reflux Diagnosis and Treatment
Consult your doctor if your heartburn occurs two or more times a week. You can help prevent potentially dangerous complications by following your doctor’s medication orders. Taking your prescription at the same time every day is very important. If you’re prone to forgetting, establish a habit to take your medicine when you do another daily activity you always remember such as brushing your teeth. One popular heartburn remedy, Esomeprazole (Nexium), can be purchased online at discount prices. Also search this Canadian pharmacy for additional prescription medications.
Helpful Lifestyle Modifications
Altering lifestyle habits that contribute to acid reflux flare-ups can help control the resulting troublesome symptoms. And when you suffer from fewer acid reflux episodes, you reduce your chances of more severe esophageal damage. Try some of these proven methods to stop acid reflux before it starts.
- Customize your diet:
Avoid acidic foods (like tomatoes, citrus fruits, and vinegar), fried and fatty foods, spicy dishes, garlic, onions, chocolate, and mint. Limit coffee, caffeinated tea and soft drinks, carbonated drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Reducing your occurrences of food-related heartburn can go a long way in decreasing your risk of complications. Check out these heartburn-free recipes that feature special preparation methods to promote good digestion.
- Track your heartburn triggers:
To control chronic symptoms, keep a record of which foods and beverages trigger your attacks, how your body reacts, your symptom severity, and what brings you relief. Then take this information to your doctor so you can determine together what lifestyle changes you need to make and which treatments will give you maximum relief and prevent complications. You can use this heartburn record as an example of what details to track.
- Eat small meals:
A full stomach can put extra pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into your esophagus. Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead.
- Limit alcohol:
Besides increasing stomach acid production and causing heartburn, alcohol relaxes your LES. This allows your stomach contents to reflux into your esophagus. If you want to consume alcohol, dilute it with water, or club soda, and drink moderate amounts.
- Don’t smoke:
The chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken your LES as they pass from your lungs into your blood.
- Lose weight:
Now you have another reason to drop any excess pounds you’re carrying. Fat around your middle increases abdominal pressure, which can push acid back up your esophagus. That’s why heartburn is so common during pregnancy.
- Choose loose clothing:
Don’t wear snug clothes, slenderizing undergarments, or belts that are tight fitting around your waist. They’ll squeeze your stomach, force food up against your LES, and cause it to reflux into your esophagus.
- Reduce nighttime heartburn:
Lying down with a full stomach can cause your undigested food to press harder against your LES. Frequent nighttime heartburn can be the most dangerous. Refluxed acid tends to remain in your esophagus for longer periods when you’re reclining, allowing it to cause more damage and increase your risk of complications. Don’t eat two to three hours before bedtime.
Raise your head a few inches while you sleep so gravity can help prevent food from backing up into your esophagus. Place bricks, blocks, or anything sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You also can use an extra pillow or a wedge-shaped one to elevate your head.