October 27, 2011

Persistent Heartburn

Heartburn is a common condition in which a burning sensation is felt rising from the stomach towards the throat. This burning feeling is caused by stomach acid washing back up from the stomach into the esophagus.

Normally, a valve at the end of the esophagus seals off the contents of our stomachs, but sometimes this process does not work properly, typically just following a meal. Heartburn symptoms may be mild and infrequent or, in more serious cases, last for weeks or months.

Persistent heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable and even require a doctor’s care if it becomes a chronic condition. It can occur after eating, when lying down, or when you bend forward. If you have heartburn, you will often have a bitter or sour taste in your mouth from the stomach acid flowing back up into your esophagus. Other symptoms include hoarseness, cough, nausea, trouble swallowing, and chest pain. However, unlike heart attack symptoms, this type of pain is not localized to one side of the chest.

When heartburn becomes chronic in nature it can develop into a more serious condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. The condition can lead to damage to the esophagus. The injuries may include: reflux esopagitis, esophageal strictures, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophageal adenocarcinoma- a rare form of cancer.

An esophageal pH monitoring test is often performed to check for GERD. It is considered to be the most objective test for diagnosing the disease. It also allows for monitoring of GERD patients to show how they are responding to medical intervention.

There are a number of factors that can cause GERD. Obesity is often associated with more severe cases of GERD. The presence of a hiatal hernia also increases the risks of acquiring GERD, due to its effects on motility of the stomach. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a disorder with a GERD correlation. This syndrome increases gastric acidity through gastrin production. Another cause of GERD is visceroptosis or Glenard syndrome, where the stomach sinks into the abdominal cavity, disrupting the acid secretion and motility of the stomach.

The presence of cardiac disease is one condition that must first be eliminated as a cause of persistent heartburn. If a person has unexplained chest pain on one side of the chest, they need to see a doctor to be sure of what they are dealing with. The two conditions can have a similar set of symptoms since the esophagus and heart share the same nerve supply.

Chest pain caused by heartburn is typically described as a “burning” sensation, happens after eating, and grows worse when the person bends over or lies down. It is not uncommon in pregnant women, and can occur after consuming large amounts of food, or certain spicy foods, fatty foods, or acidic foods. It can sometimes be attributed to esophageal spasms.

Fortunately, treatments are available for persistent heartburn and the intervention of a doctor is rarely required. If you suffer from persistent heartburn, for more information and resources please visit Reflux Remedy at refluxremedy.com today.

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