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Acid reflux and heartburn


We all love that Summer BBQ!

Let’s just be honest, who does not love a good summer cookout?! Our taste buds may thank us but our stomachs may not. If you struggle with heartburn this article is for you. 

Heartburn is that burning sensation in your chest or the bitter taste in your mouth that you get after eating certain foods. It occurs when stomach acid refluxes or backs up into the esophagus. For most people heartburn is severe after a large, high-fat meal. What contributes to heartburn? First, there are foods that can relax the muscle that lies between the esophagus and the stomach. Second, eating too much too fast can result in an increased production of stomach acid which then causes the reflux. Third, smoking stimulates the production of acid and interferes with saliva which is basically a double whammy. Fourth, some medications can cause reflux. Finally, pregnancy can result in heartburn due to either hormone activity or the pressure placed on the digestive system by the baby.

How can heartburn be treated? Changes in your lifestyle are always the first recommendation. Stop smoking, cut back on alcohol and fatty foods, avoid late meals, eat smaller meals, and do not lay down right after eating are all changes that can be made to avoid reflux. Antacids, acid blockers, or proton pump inhibitors are also options. Antacids (like Tums or Rolaids) can be taken before or after a meal to help prevent/stop heartburn. When looking at this option make sure to consult your pharmacist as some prescription medications that you may be on can interact with antacids. Then there are acid blockers. Acid blockers actually decrease the amount of acid made by your stomach. Products like Pepcid, Zantac, or Tagamet are all acid blockers. Finally, there are proton pump inhibitors. This form of treatment basically shuts down the billions of “pumps” that make the acid in your stomach. Prilosec OTC, Nexium, and Prevacid are all proton pump inhibitors.  

Not all treatments work for everyone so trying a couple different ones may be necessary before you find the one that works for you. If you have questions about what treatment option is best for you (an if it may interact with any medication you are on) feel free to call in to the radio show or come into the pharmacy any time!

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