St. Lucie

Gastrointestinal Diseases, PL

Dr. Khiem Nguyen

Heartburn


Heartburn occurs when the pressure in the stomach overcomes the valve (or sphincter) that separates the esophagus from the stomach. This allows the stomach acid to reflux into the esophagus. It is often caused by a “hiatal hernia” or even by weight gain and pregnancy. Spicy food, caffeinated drinks, mint and chocolate can worsen the symptoms of reflux.

Although occasional heartburn or reflux is normal, it is abnormal if it occurs frequently, especially with difficulty swallowing, chest pain, nightly cough, asthma, or weight loss.

Treatment

Avoid chocolate, caffeine (including soda and tea), coffee of any form and alcohol.

Stop smoking. Nicotine weakens the esophageal valve and predisposes patients to esophageal cancer.

Stay within your recommended weight range or begin a weight reduction program by increasing aerobic activities.

Do not eat large meals as more stomach contents can increase acid refluxing into the esophagus.

Don't lie down for 2 hours after eating, as lying flat can allow acid reflux into the esophagus.

Use a block of about 2 to 4 inches to keep the head of your bed elevated above 30 degrees, and do not use pillows to raise your head and neck.

Use over-the-counter liquid antacids for relief of occasional heartburn.

Seek medical attention if you need more than 2 doses of antacids per day or more than 3 times a week.

Do not think that you have to have “heartburn” to have reflux. As mentioned above, reflux can present as different medical manifestations.

For your convenience Patients may fill out Patient Information/Medical History Form or Ask the Doctor a Question via the Contact Us page. Physicians may also fill out our Physician Referral form located on the Contact Us page.

Disclaimer

This section is as reference guide only. The information contained herein should not be used as or construed to be a diagnosis or used in place of a visit to a physician.

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