Indy Gastro | Colonoscopy, rectal bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, endoscopy

Heartburn

Definition

A burning or hot sensation underneath the breastbone. Some patients state that they experience pain in the very pit of their stomach while other patients describe that the discomfort continues up under the breastbone and sometimes into the throat. If the stomach contents reflux up into the throat, a patient may complain of an increased flow of saliva, a salty taste, or a sour or acid material in the back of his/her throat. Some patients awaken choking at night. The esophagus is not designed to tolerate this acid and, as a result, the acid burns the lining of the esophagus. Many people experience minor degrees of heartburn. However, if it is a regular occurrence, the continual flow of acid up into the esophagus can cause ulceration of the esophagus. This leads to scarring at the bottom of the esophagus resulting in a stricture (narrowing).

Diagnosis

Your doctor will do a complete exam on you and take a detailed physical history to see if you are having reflux. There are several tests that can be done which include an endoscopy of your upper gastrointestinal tract to find if you have reflux.

Treatment

  1. Anti-reflux Program:
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    • Elevate the head of your bed with 6-8" blocks or use a bed wedge to elevate your chest and head. (This allows us to use gravity to keep the acid contents of the stomach in the stomach while sleeping; just using extra pillows is not adequate).
    • Nothing to eat for three hours prior to bedtime. (This reduces the volume of stomach contents at bedtime.)
    • Do not lie down for at least three hours after meals. (This decreases reflux at a time when the stomach is most full and has the most acid.)

Summary

Heartburn can be occasional or long lasting in nature. Heartburn that continues to happens needs to be discussed with your doctor so to prevent any damage to the throat.

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    Suites 150 & 200
    Indianapolis, IN 46237

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