Do you get heartburn after eating your favorite foods? Does it wake you up at night? You are not alone. People have been suffering from heartburn symptoms for hundreds of years. Throughout that long history, people have also been trying to decrease the pain and symptoms associated with heartburn.
The first written account of a heartburn treatment dates back to the first century, when Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, wrote down his solution for the fire within “coral powder.” Coral powder, says Dr. M. Michael Wolfe, chief of gastroenterology at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine, contained calcium carbonate, an ingredient still found in some antacids today.
Heartburn is very common, affecting over 60 million people at least once a month, with many people experiencing daily symptoms. It can be experienced as a burning sensation that radiates up through the stomach to the chest and throat.
Despite its name, heartburn does not affect the heart. It is very common to have symptoms after a big meal or after eating certain foods, or when bending over or lying down on the back. Stress can also play a big role in heartburn. “When you are under stress, you are more bothered by it,” says Dr. Lin Chang, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Neurovisceral Sciences and Women's Health. “There's also some evidence that if you're under stress you actually increase your acid secretion as well.”
Heartburn is the main symptom associated with acid reflux or gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Other GERD symptoms can include pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen, bloating, burping or nausea after eating. However, people can have these symptoms and not have GERD.
Many people take over-the-counter (OTC) medications for relief of heartburn and don't give it much thought. The OTC options are antacids and H2 blockers. Many people find that they do not need OTC medication for their heartburn symptoms. They are able to manage the symptoms by decreasing the foods that may be contributing.
Other tips that may help heartburn symptoms
- Try not to over eat and eat more slowly.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Avoid high fat foods.
- Stay upright for at least 45 minutes after eating.
- Eat no later than 2-3 hours before heading to bed.
- Elevate your bed 6 inches at the head.
There are many options out there to reduce the symptoms associated with heartburn. If you are suffering with these symptoms, you have options; you don't have to live with the irritating symptoms.