Say Goodbye to Heartburn with Expert Advice from Dr. Akerman
If you sometimes get a painful burning feeling in your chest or throat after eating, you have heartburn. It can happen to anyone, from teenagers to seniors. You probably have lots of questions, like what causes it, if it's serious, and how to make it go away. As a Plano gastroenterologist who helps patients manage heartburn and related issues every day, I've got the inside information to answer your burning questions. Keep reading to get the facts on heartburn - and contact me if you still have questions!
Is heartburn the same as acid reflux or indigestion?
These problems feel sort of alike but aren't identical. Heartburn means stomach acid is backing up into the tube connecting your throat and stomach (esophagus), irritating the lining. With acid reflux, acid and food actually flow back into your esophagus. Indigestion is just an upset stomach that may cause bloating, nausea, or other discomfort along with heartburn.
Is heartburn different from GERD?
GERD is short for “gastroesophageal reflux disease.” If you get painful heartburn more than twice a week or it really disrupts your life, you may have GERD - basically worsening symptoms of chronic reflux. Even adults can develop GERD.
What does heartburn feel like?
Heartburn usually feels like a hot, burning, or warm feeling behind your breastbone. It can spread up to your throat and neck or stay concentrated in one small area. You might also get a bitter taste in your mouth. It’s not dangerous but definitely uncomfortable!
Can you get nausea, chest pain, or back pain from heartburn?
You sure can. Since the esophagus runs through your chest, heartburn can make your chest ache. Upper back pain between the shoulders is common too. And some folks feel downright sick to their stomach from severe heartburn, as stomach acid triggers nerves in other areas.
When do pregnant women get heartburn?
Pregnant women often get heartburn, especially in the last 6 months as the growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach. Hormones that relax muscles can also loosen the valve between the esophagus and stomach, allowing acid leaks. Luckily heartburn usually goes away after birth.
What helps when heartburn starts?
As soon as burning starts, stand or sit upright to keep acid down. Loosen tight clothes and take an over-the-counter antacid like Tums to neutralize acid. If symptoms persist, call your doctor to discuss medication options. Lifestyle fixes like eating smaller meals more often can also ease heartburn.
What helps chronic heartburn?
If you have heartburn more than twice a week or don’t get enough relief from drugstore remedies, prescription medications may help. Acid reducers like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can halt acid production and promote healing. But always talk to your doctor before trying new meds, especially long-term ones.
Is heartburn dangerous?
Here’s the good news: for most people, heartburn is unpleasant but not life-threatening. But over time, constant acid irritation can sometimes lead to ulcers, scarring, asthma, or esophageal cancer. By managing symptoms and getting screened for complications, most folks go on to live happy lives despite reflux issues.
I hope getting factual, easy-to-understand answers from a gastroenterology specialist helps you feel informed and reassured. Whether you occasionally get heartburn or have chronic reflux/GERD, know that symptoms can be successfully managed in most cases with some smart lifestyle tweaks and treatment. My fellow physicians and I are here to help!
If unresolved heartburn is disrupting your life, please call my Plano/Dallas office to schedule a consultation. Together we’ll get to the source of your issues and tailor an effective treatment plan. This is Dr. Stuart Akerman, reflux and heartburn specialist, signing off!
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this blog is intended for Informational Use only and is not intended to replace personal evaluation and treatment by a medical provider. The information provided on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor for any information related to your personal care.