Five Common Myths about Heartburn

09. 08. 2014

Understanding heartburn is an important part of knowing how to treat it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information floating around out there, leading to some common misconceptions. Heartburn isn’t always serious, but it can be an indication of an underlying condition, so it’s important to know the facts. Here are five of the most common myths about heartburn – debunked.

#1 It’s not a big deal

Almost everyone experiences heartburn at some point, and most of the time, it’s no cause for concern. But if heartburn becomes more frequent or severe, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Chronic heartburn could be an indication of ulcers, hiatal hernia, or gastritis. It could also be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive disorder that can permanently damage the esophagus if left untreated. If you experience frequent heartburn episodes for more than a few weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

#2 I can treat it with antacids

Antacids are great for treating the occasional episode of heartburn. But if you constantly rely on antacids to keep your heartburn under control, you need to see a doctor. There may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, and antacids will just cover up the problem rather than treat it. Not to mention, too many antacids can produce undesirable side effects, like constipation or diarrhea.

#3 Food is causing my heartburn

While it’s true that some foods can aggravate heartburn, they are not the source of the problem. Heartburn is caused by a problem with the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a ring of muscle located at the base of the esophagus. When the LES relaxes, stomach acid creeps back into the esophagus and causes heartburn.

#4 There’s no way to stop heartburn

Just because you experience persistent heartburn doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever. Heartburn is a symptom that can be treated with prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and lifestyle modifications. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and decide on a comprehensive treatment plan that will keep your heartburn under control.

#5 Medicine is my only option

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers, and antacids are all very effective in treating heartburn, but they are not your only options. Modifying your diet to exclude trigger foods and eating smaller portions can help reduce the occurrence of heartburn. Wearing loose clothing, taking walks after mealtime, and finishing meals 2 to 3 hours before bedtime can also prevent flare-ups (Source: everyday health).

Chronic heartburn is serious but treatable. If you have concerns about the frequency or severity of your heartburn episodes, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. With the right treatment, you control your symptoms and preserve your digestive health.

 

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