Reflux, commonly known as heartburn, is a condition in which food or bile travels back up the esophagus from the stomach, leaving an acidic taste in the mouth. Triggers can include certain foods, medications, obesity or even stress. In rare cases, reflux might be caused by a GI tract disease or even birth defect that constricts the movement of food in the small intestines. In most cases, though, reflux is easily treated with dietary changes.
- Heartburn was so named because of a burning sensation in the chest or throat
- A bilious taste in the mouth accompanied by regurgitated food or liquid
- Fullness, bloating, burping, or nausea after eating
- Left upper quadrant abdominal pain or aching
Who is at risk?
Anyone, although symptoms are more prevalent with those who are overweight or pregnant. Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, but heartburn pain can be confused with pain related to heart problems. There have been studies showing that 50% of persons presenting to their physician with a heart attack are also experiencing heartburn. Do not ignore these symptoms if you are at risk of heart disease.
There are medications that improve heartburn, but none better than watching your diet for items that trigger reflux and then avoiding them. Eat moderately and slowly, taking time to let your food digest and send signals to your brain that you are full before you have had the opportunity to overeat. Over the counter antacids can help if you are already in the throes of heartburn. Take these products as directed by a physician who can help determine whether you need stronger prescription medication. Surgical correction might be directed by a physician as a last resort once other remedies are exhausted.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
Seek emergency medical treatment if complications from reflux include excessive vomiting, blood in your stool or emesis, severe pain, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, dehydration or unintentional weight loss.
Treatment for Reflux is available now at Mountain Lakes Medical Center in Mountain Lakes, NJ.
For more information on reflux, see the following websites:
Too Many Babies Take Anti-Reflux Drugs, by WebMD Health News
Signs to watch for Malrotation of the Intestine, from eMedicineHealth
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse on heartburn, GER and GERD
The link between Heartburn (or reflux) and Asthma
Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of MtLakesMedical.com. The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.