Heartburn and Acid Reflux: What You Need to Know
Feb 17, 2018 Cedars-Sinai Staff
Causes of heartburn
Spicy foods or large meals can be the root of distress.
Symptoms of heartburn
Treatment of heartburn
What should you do to prevent or relieve heartburn? Your doctor might start by suggesting simple lifestyle changes, says Dr. Nipaporn Pichetshote, gastroenterologist and assistant medical director of the Cedars-Sinai GI Motility program.
Avoid foods that trigger the problem; eat smaller, more frequent meals; and wait 2-3 hours after you eat before lying down.
"If your symptoms don't get better with over-the-counter medication, if you take it more than twice a week, or if your symptoms come on with exertion or exercise, you should see your healthcare provider."
Over-the-counter antacids can help and may be taken after meals or as needed. Your doctor could also suggest an H2 blocker or proton pump inhibitor, both of which are available over the counter or with a prescription.
If your symptoms are not alleviated or you rely on drugstore medication often, you may have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a more serious form of acid reflux. Your doctor may order an X-ray, endoscopy, or other tests to determine if your symptoms are related to GERD.
"If you're taking medications like proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers and don't see any improvement, you may need tests for the motility of your esophagus or pH testing," says Dr. Pichetshote.
She also notes that it's important to monitor your symptoms closely and discuss them with your doctor, because they could actually indicate a more serious condition, such as heart disease, hiatal hernia, or esophageal cancer, which require immediate attention.
"If your symptoms don't get better with over-the-counter medication, if you take it more than twice a week, or if your symptoms come on with exertion or exercise, you should see your healthcare provider," says Dr. Pichetshote.