What to Do About Heartburn that Won’t Go Away
Persistent heartburn can be a sign of a significant problem, usually a digestive issue of some kind. In some cases, heartburn that won’t go away can be confused with the signs of heart problems. More often it’s a sign that you may have an acid reflux disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.)
There are some significant differences in heartburn that won’t go away because of acid reflux and the sensations caused by cardiac arrest. Pain from a heart attack is sudden and feels crushing in many cases. Chances are, if you have GERD you know what heartburn really feels like and can tell the difference.
Heart attack pain can also be slow, starting with mild discomfort that increases in your whole upper body and spreads to your neck, jaw, and arms. You may feel short of breath, dizzy, and sweaty, too. Heartburn that won’t go away lasts longer than this kind of pain and is associated with feeling sick to your stomach.
However, if you have not been diagnosed with GERD or you are experiencing heartburn for the first time, it may be a foreign feeling for you. A quick way to tell the difference is the taste in your mouth. Heartburn makes your mouth taste sour, especially if you lay down. Also, the pain will usually occur right after you have eaten, especially if you are a spicy or large meal with a lot of animal proteins and fat).
Pain in the chest that may seem like heartburn can also be caused by muscle spasms in the esophagus and gallbladder problems. If it’s a gallbladder issue, you will also feel sudden pain in your back and abdomen.
Chronic Heartburn is a Symptom Acid Reflux
Heartburn is a very common symptom of GERD. Heartburn feels like a burning sensation right behind your breastbone where your throat runs through. This is where the esophagus is located and it is the organ that is hurting when you feel this symptom.
Heartburn that won’t go away is usually caused by either an overproduction of acid in the stomach that forces its way into the esophagus or stomach acids that get into the esophagus because the LES is not closing properly. The LES, or lower esophageal sphincter, is a muscle that closes after you swallow to keep all of the contents of your stomach away from the esophagus.
The LES normally relaxes several times a day and in most people, this is when occasional heartburn occurs. It can also occur after you have eaten too much or when you eat something that increases acid production and gastric pressure. (Like carbonated soda or fatty foods that are high in animal proteins.)
For people with GERD, heartburn may be persistent because the stomach is producing a large amount of acids to digest foods and the LES isn’t closing all the way or as often as it should.
If you have heartburn that won’t go away, it is very important to see treatment. Heartburn caused by GERD will occur several times a week and can eventually cause permanent damage to the esophagus.
A doctor can prescribe medications that help prevent the excessive buildup of acids in the stomach. A special kind of medication known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) prevents the ducts that pump acid into your stomach from doing their job. Less acid means less acid reflux and fewer instance of heartburn.
H2 blockers are also beneficial in the treatment of heartburn that won’t go away. These medications prevent the creation of too many stomach acids.
If you are not experiencing consistent heartburn episodes and have heartburn that won’t go away after eating a meal, you may benefit from a simple approach to extinguish heartburn caused by a food trigger. (Spicy foods, fatty foods, alcohol, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks are among the most common triggers.)
Simple remedies include chewing a handful of almonds or eating some raw yogurt with high probiotic content. Over the counter antacids may help treat heartburn symptoms, but shouldn’t be used to treat them for a long period of time.
The best way to treat heartburn is to prevent it altogether. Whenever possible, avoid foods that can cause heartburn. Stress is a heartburn trigger as well, so try to reduce the amount of stress you are experiencing.