Trident Health System - January 30, 2018

When What You’ve Tried Isn’t Enough

If you’re taking antacids or that pink goo for stomach pain more than couple of times a month, you might have a more serious problem.

Is it Heartburn or Something More Serious?

Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart. Heartburn is caused by stomach acid irritating the esophagus. The most common symptoms of heartburn include:

  • A sharp burning sensation that occurs after eating (this can last for a few minutes or for several hours)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain, especially after bending over, lying down or eating

So how do you know when heartburn is something you should see your doctor about? Occasional heartburn is no cause for alarm, but heartburn that is more frequent (at least 2 times a week) may be a symptom of a more serious condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD.

Heartburn Assessment

Assess your heartburn using this online tool.

Assess Your Heartnurn

What are the Causes and Symptoms of GERD?

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, GERD affects 30 million adults in the US on a daily basis and although common, the disease often goes unrecognized and its symptoms misunderstood. GERD can affect people at any age; however the risk for developing GERD increases after the age of 40. GERD is caused by a weak muscle between the stomach and the esophagus called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). This can allow stomach acid to escape and flow up into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include:

  • You experience heartburn twice or more each week
  • Your heartburn affects your sleeping
  • Your heartburn persists and becomes more severe
  • You've had heartburn regularly for several years
  • Daily activities are affected by discomfort from reflux
  • You experience difficulty swallowing
  • You notice shortness of breath, wheezing and chest pain
  • You experience a chronic, non-productive dry cough
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