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Heartburn

Advanced Digestive Care

Gastroenterologists located in Clearwater, FL

That burning feeling in your chest that comes on after a meal isn’t a heart problem, even though it’s called heartburn. If you get heartburn regularly, the team at Advanced Digestive Care in Clearwater, Florida, can help ease the pain and get your digestion working properly again. For fast and effective relief from heartburn, call Advanced Digestive Care today to schedule a consultation, or book an appointment using the online tool.

Heartburn Q & A

What is heartburn?

Heartburn is a symptom of digestive problems that causes pain and a burning feeling in your chest. The burning sensation often travels up your esophagus (windpipe) too. Heartburn might start when you lay down after a large meal, and even bending over can set it off for some people.

Although it’s called heartburn, the condition has nothing to do with your heart. The pain centers around that region of your body because it originates in the part of your digestive system that’s close to your heart.

Heartburn is also known as acid reflux or acid indigestion, and when it becomes a persistent problem, it’s called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn is caused by the acid in your stomach backing up into your esophagus. Stomach acid plays an important role in breaking down food before it enters your upper intestine, and it has powerful corrosive effects. The lining of your stomach is designed to cope with the effects of the acid, but your esophagus isn’t.

Acid can’t normally get out of your stomach because there’s a band of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus that lets food in but prevents acid or food coming back up. This muscle is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and if it stops working properly, that’s when stomach acid can flow back up your esophagus.

Because your esophagus isn’t equipped to deal with the acid, it gets inflamed and sore, causing the symptoms of heartburn. Attacks often come on when you eat a particular foodstuff, common examples being:

  • High-fat foods
  • Spices
  • Onions
  • Citrus fruits or juice
  • Tomatoes
  • Fried food
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Caffeine

Eating large meals, being overweight or obese, and being pregnant all put pressure on the LES and are likely to trigger heartburn.

Heartburn often develops if you eat large meals or foods that contain high levels of fat, and being obese or pregnant also makes you more likely to experience heartburn.

What treatments are there for heartburn?

Self-care measures are usually all you need for mild or infrequent bouts of heartburn. These include:

  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Not eating late at night
  • Over-the-counter antacids

If heartburn has become a chronic problem, the team at Advanced Digestive Care can help by prescribing medications called H-2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs) or proton pump inhibitors to reduce acid production.

In severe cases of GERD, your provider at Advanced Digestive Care can carry out a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure called antireflux surgery. This involves performing a fundoplication, which helps to strengthen the LES and prevent acid reflux. The most common form is the Nissen fundoplication in which your surgeon reinforces the lower part of your esophagus by making adaptations to the top of your stomach.

If you’re regularly experiencing heartburn, make an appointment with the expert gastroenterologists at Advanced Digestive Care today by calling or using the online booking tool.