With the festive season upon us, many will be wary that over-indulgence or unusual food may upset their stomach. With a few measures, we can make sure that discomfort doesn’t ruin all the fun.
What are heartburn and acid reflux?
Heartburn is a burning pain in the chest, felt right behind the breastbone. It is often worse after eating, and in some people the pain is usually more intense at night or when they lie down or bend over. It is common to get occasional heartburn, especially as we grow older, and following the ingestion of unusual food or food in larger quantities.
Most bouts of heartburn aren’t a cause for alarm but if the heartburn starts to occur more often, then treatment and lifestyle changes will be needed. This is particularly true if the heartburn starts to interfere with everyday activities as it becomes more frequent and painful.
Sometimes the discomfort of heartburn is accompanied by an acidic or bitter taste in the mouth. This occurs when the liquid contents of the stomach splash back into the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. This is called acid reflux and when it happens in a chronic way it is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. Here the pain and burning sensation move upwards to the throat and neck.
Why do they occur?
Heartburn and acid reflux commonly occur due to the type of food and drink we consume. Trigger foods include those that are fatty or fried as well as those considered more acidic than others, such as tomatoes, very spicy foods (particularly if you are not accustomed to it), citrus fruits, chocolate, as well as garlic and onions. Caffeine, carbonated drinks, and alcohol can also cause heartburn and acid reflux, or make the pre-existing condition worse.
There are certain conditions that can make heartburn and acid reflux more likely and frequent. These are obesity, pregnancy, smoking, and certain medications (e.g., aspirin) or conditions (e.g., hiatus hernia). Those with a habit of eating too fast, or overeating, are more likely to suffer from these acidic reactions in the stomach.
Wearing tight clothes can also make heartburn and acid reflux worse because these compress the stomach and impede proper digestion.
How can I avoid it?
For many people, lifestyle changes will drastically decrease the heartburn or acid reflux events. Lifestyle changes include weight loss, smoking cessation, decreasing meal size, eating more slowly, and decreasing the consumption of trigger foods.
It’s important to note that trigger foods may be personal; you may be able to drink 5 coffees a day with no problem, while your friend cannot have one without bad effects. Awareness of what causes you heartburn is essential in staving off the acid attacks.
Sometimes you may need to eliminate certain foods and drink from your diet permanently to avoid another episode of heartburn or to decrease the frequency. In other cases, foods can be avoided or decreased for some time until the stomach and food pipe have time to heal properly.
Medicines such as Emazole Control can be used to treat the damage of acid and reduce the production of acid in the stomach.
How can I treat it?
Heartburn and acid reflux and their resulting symptoms of inflammation are treated with a medicine called a ‘proton pump inhibitor.’ These work by reducing the amount of acid produced by your stomach.
Emazole Control contains 20mg of esomeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor taken once daily to bring relief from excessive acid, decreasing painful sensations as well as the backwash of acid up the food pipe and inside the mouth.
Unlike antacids Emazole Control does not only work as an immediate relief, but it works directly at the source of pain and inflammation, decreasing acid in the stomach. For this reason, it may take 2-3 days to feel relief when taking Emazole Control, but the relief will be longer-lasting.
Emazole Control may be dissolved in a small amount of still water and ingested this way, a convenient feature for those who find it difficult to swallow.
When should I seek medical help?
The pain of heartburn and acid reflux are sometimes confused with heart problems because of the place in which they occur. Extreme heartburn can truly feel like a heart attack; and so, it’s essential to be aware of what’s going on in our bodies. Watch out for these instances in heartburn/acid reflux:
- It lasts for more than 14 days or gets worse
- It is severe and frequent
- It does not respond to treatment
- There is chest pain, shortness of breath, or pain in the jaw or arm
- It is difficult to swallow or speak
When in doubt, always seek medical help, and emergency help in the case of symptoms of a heart attack. In this case, mere minutes can make a difference. Remember that knowing what is causing your heartburn can help you to live a more comfortable life.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940
- Emazole Control. (2019, October 29). Rowex Consumer Healthcare. http://rowex.ie/emazole-control/
- Eating Food Too Fast Speeds Acid Reflux. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/news/20030523/eating-food-too-fast-speeds-heartburn