Most of us have experienced heartburn at some stage in our lives, and that burning pain is certainly not pleasant. However, it is something that is often dismissed as a minor irritation that soon passes. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and frequent heartburn can be an indication of more severe problems. In fact, left untreated heartburn can actually cause a great deal of damage, so it is well worth discussing remedies with your local pharmacy.
What is Heartburn?
First of all, let’s talk about what heartburn is and the symptoms to look for. Despite the name, heartburn does not have anything to do with the heart – other than the fact the symptoms often mimic those of a heart attack! Heartburn is an irritation in the esophagus caused by acid coming back up from the stomach. You may have heard it referred to as acid indigestion. The process of the acid coming back up is known as reflux. Most people experience heartburn as temporary discomfort, and over-the-counter medication is available at your local pharmacy. However, if heartburn is persistent and frequent, it could indicate the presence of a more serious condition, most commonly gastroesophageal reflux disease aka GERD.
What is GERD?
GERD is a relatively common condition in the United States affecting around 20% of the population. It manifests as chronic reflux into the esophagus with the most common symptoms being heartburn, regurgitation, and problems with swallowing. GERD is treated by attempting to reduce the amount of reflux to limit damage to the lining of the esophagus. Aside from medication, lifestyle changes and a modified diet are usually prescribed.
What Causes Heartburn?
Almost anybody can suffer from heartburn, and it is triggered by a variety of different factors – dietary, medical and lifestyle. In the dietary category, big triggers include eating large amounts of food, eating before bed, high fat or highly acidic foods and drinking caffeinated and carbonated refreshments. Some of the lifestyle habits include obesity, smoking, tight clothing and bending down or lying down too soon after a meal! All of these can have an impact on the amount of acid in the stomach and the pressure on the oesophageal sphincter! You can talk with your local pharmacy if you need support in these areas.
Some of the medical causes of heartburn include:
- A Hiatal Hernia
- Some Bacteria
- Certain Medications
Over-the-counter medication is available from your local pharmacy to treat heartburn. These are usually the first thing to try if you need relief from heartburn. However, if they are ineffective or if your heartburn is occurring more frequently then it is wise to consult a doctor. Some of the medications available at the local pharmacy include:
- Antacids – These are designed to neutralize stomach acid. Examples you may have heard of would be Milk of Magnesia, Alka Seltzer, and Pepto-Bismol. Be aware that some antacids can cause diarrhea or constipation.
- Acid Reducers – These drugs cut down the amount of acid produced in the stomach. Over-The-Counter brands include Zantac and Pepcid.
If you have concerns about heartburn or GERD, then feel free to stop by and speak with your local pharmacy where we can offer advice on what to do next.
Your Hometown Pharmacy Since 1966
Vaughn Pharmacy is a local, family-owned pharmacy serving the community in Powell, TN. Specializing in providing personalized and attentive prescription programs to our patients, we believe you are more than just a number – you’re part of our family!