When Can You Say You Are Experiencing Symptoms Of Heartburn?

The symptoms of heartburn can be misleading. The chest pain that often occurs with heartburn can be mistaken for a heart attack. Other heartburn symptoms such as the burning sensation in the throat, the difficulty in swallowing, sore throat, hoarseness, and chronic cough, can all be indicative of some other form of disease, not necessarily heartburn. So when can you say exactly that you are experiencing symptoms of heartburn and not something else that requires medical emergency?

Here are some guidelines to find out what kind of treatment to seek:

  • Chest pain due to heartburn is sharp and occurs after eating, reclining, or during periods of anxiety. The pain is usually not radiating in nature, but more likely to be localized just below the breastbone. Typically, the pain does not come with cold sweats, and it usually goes away after taking antacids.
  • Chest pain due to heart attack, on the other hand, is described to be a dull, belt-tightening pressure in the chest. The pain, in most cases, radiates to the shoulders and arms, and may also involve the neck and the jaw. There usually are cold sweats and shortness of breath. The attack is sudden and gets worse unless the patient is given nitroglycerin.
  • Do you experience heartburn symptoms frequently? If you experience the symptoms almost daily or once a week, consult a specialist who will likely have you go over a few more diagnostic exams to determine if you have, indeed, heartburn. One possible test you may need to undergo is the esophageal pH probe study. This involves the insertion of a tube into the esophagus for 24 hours to measure the acid levels in your esophagus. A more modern approach to this is the Bravo technique which has basically the same goal as the esophageal pH probe study only that instead of using a tube it makes use of wireless pH sensors. To rule out heart problem as the possible cause for the chest pain and rule in heartburn, an electrocardiogram (ECG) will be required.

If a diagnosis of heartburn is confirmed, you will be prescribed with antacids to control it. You must know, however, that antacids can make the heartburn worse as there is what is called "rebound hyperacidity", whereby instead of working against the acids, the antacids instead cause more gastric acids to be produced. In addition, the antacids, when taken frequently, can create an imbalance of your good bacteria which actually give you more protection from infections, especially gastritis.

Such being the case, why not opt ​​for alternative treatments and preventive measures for heartburn? A few I'd like to mention are:

  • Keeping your meals small but frequent. Are you used to eating 3 large meals a day? Try to break them down into 6 small meals. You'll be putting less stress on your digestive system this way, and with less pressure in your stomach, the stomach contents will have fewer chances of pushing against the lower esophageal sphincter, forcing it to open.
  • Choosing your food carefully, specifically avoiding spicy foods, peppermint, caffeine foods and beverages, and tomato and tomato-based dishes. These foods trigger heartburn, have not you noticed? So avoid them as much as possible.
  • Including fruits like papaya and banana in your diet. Eating fresh papaya and banana at the start of your meal can prevent heartburn attacks. These fruits are known to be among the most nutritious. They contain enzymes and fiber that alkalinize stomach acids and help in the process of digestion at the same time.

With these recommendations, there's no need for you to become frustrated and irritated every time you experience the symptoms of heartburn.