Understanding Heartburn: How to manage or prevent it.

Worldwide heartburn prevalence is 11.9%.                                                                                                                  In women GERD and heartburn have higher prevalence

By Mahmood Hussain 01 November 2018, article written for Baby First Pakistan website www.babyfirst.com.pk , Facebook:babyfirstpk, LinkedIn, twitter and other digital and social media. 

To understand this important topic of heart burn and how common it is with in USA population . It is reported by American College of Gastroenterology, the patient education and resource society. More than 60 million American people have experience heartburn once a month, Further in some studies it is observed 15 million American experience each day the heartburn and acid indigestion feeling. The symptom are more commonly observed with in elderly patient above the age of 40 years and pregnant women.

Heartburn is due to burning sensation within the chest area or in the upper abdomen region. It is also known as acid indigestion. The burning sensation is felt at or around chest, this feeling may also felt at neck, throat and within jaw area.                                                                                                                                                                              Heartburn is due to acid reflex in the esophagus and known or refer as gastro-esophageal reflex.  This condition is commonly referred as GERD. It involves the upper part of the digestive system the esophagus which is attach on one side to mouth and the lower side is attach to stomach.

Heartburn symptoms are confused with the symptom of heart and its associated disease which is refer as ischemic heart disease

Gastro-esophageal reflex disease is commonly refer as GERD.  It is the most common cause of heartburn. In this condition the acid reflex lead towards the inflammation of the esophagus.

Worldwide heart burn and GERD prevalence rate is about 11.9% among the population.

It is also noted heartburn incidence is higher in women. The symptom among both the gender are linked to the regular dietary intake *what you eat” and which may comprises of more fatty content and spicy food.

Condition of GERD is most likely to effect the people of age group more than 35 years.

The above reported figures are from the abstract appeared in PubMed with the aim of the study to evaluate prevalence of heartburn among adult. For further detail please read the article.

Abstract from Arq Gastroenterol. 2005 Apr-Jun;42(2):122-7. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

Understanding heartburn and how frequently this can appear?

We need to understand what is heartburn and how long it persists. If patient have frequent heartburn feeling, acid reflex and even after regular usage of antacid if the condition still persist, than he/she need to consult with his / her physician.

Heartburn is due to irritation within the esophagus. Whereas esophagus tube connects the mouth via throat at upper end and stomach to lower end.  Heartburn symptom appear because of the excessive acid secretion within stomach and its travels upward to the esophagus. Which may lead to the burning sensation as well as feeling of discomfort in the upper part of belly and below chest bone.

If its frequency increases even with frequent use of antacid which don’t provide the relief, then it is time to visit your doctor.

In a published report their finding is nearly 42% of all USA population has heart burn at some point in their life.

Reference Jump up^ Kushner PR (April 2010). “Role of the primary care provider in the diagnosis and management of heartburn”. Curr Med Res Opin. 26 (4): 759–65. doi:10.1185/03007990903553812. PMID 20095795.

Treatment options.

For the immediate relief of symptoms, the use of antacid such as calcium carbonate either in the form of tablet or liquid has been used routinely. If the heartburn condition persists than treatment depend upon the diagnosing underlying cause. The persistent heart burn, gastritis and GERD are very common condition.  Which is than treated by H2 receptor antagonist or proton pump inhibitor (commonly refer as PPI’s).   If effected by H Pylori than this condition is treated with an antibiotic and the most commonly prescribed antibiotic by the physician is Clarithromycin, which is commonly used to treat a wide variety of infections due to bacteria. This antibiotic is also use with combination with anti-ulcer ant to treat various types of stomach ulcers and GERD condition. It may also be used to prevent certain bacterial infections.

Life style changes will help to manage heartburn.

Below given are few guidelines as advice by the experts and taken from medical publications.

  • As a patient you need to assess is your heartburn get worse when lying down or it get bad after exercise. Another name given to this condition is acid reflex. In this condition the muscle or the sphincter of lower esophagus is not rightly functioning. This may cause the food and acid present within the stomach to reflex or flow back towards the esophagus and mouth.
  • The triggers are food and few medical conditions.
  • Please avoid going to bed when stomach is full.
  • Your last meal before going to bed to be taken at least 2 to 3 hours earlier. With this time interval the food is digested in the stomach and will travel lower side that is from stomach towards the small intestine. Second advantage is acid level also goes down.
  • Don’t over eat which lead to fullness and put you in difficult and awkward condition.
  • Eat slowly and properly chew the food.
  • Eat food in small portion and to be divided in four to five meals, to avoid feeling of fullness.
  • Avoid food and drinks which triggers the heart burn feeling.
  • Say No to beverages, cola and energy drinks.
  • Stop smoking and avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid drinking water during meal and after meal. Drink water at least after 1-2 hour of the meal.
  • Heart burn and acid reflex to be avoided and avoid the foods and drinks which trigger these condition of fullness and acid reflex. Example are:
  • High fatty content foods, deep fry items, spicy food, beverages, caffeine, citrus food and its juices, chocolate, peppermint, tomatoes and onions
  • We all need to schedule our meal time. Exercise and work out to be done preferably empty stomach. If this guideline is not followed this may lead to heartburn. Drink lot of water and specifically during and after exercise.

Reference is from WebMD Medical  reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on June 14, 201

Article written by Mahmood Hussain for Baby First Pakistan website, facebook, linkedin,, twitter

About Mahmood Hussain

Professional Experience More than 36 years work experience in Healthcare & Pharmaceutical sectorDirector & General Manager Baby First (Pvt.) Ltd Pakistan March 2011 – till to date I have been associated with Baby First (Pvt) Ltd for more than 5 years. It is advisory, community and social interaction medium for parents 16-38 years and babies 0-6 years.General Manager Aga Khan Health Service Pakistasn December 2005 – December 2007 (2 years 1 month)Based at Karachi Pakistan Worked as General Manager managing Karachi & Baluchistan Health care services of AKHSP which includes primary and secondary health care centers and diagnostic centers on all areas nearly 102 centers which include three leading hospitals in Karachi.General Manager Janssen Cilag (Johnson & Johnson) February 1998 – January 2005 (7 years)Education MBA, Marketing 1995 – 1996, Preston University MSc, Biochemistry 1970 – 1974, Karachi University

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