Heartburn is an uncomfortable but manageable condition that causes burning pain and discomfort in the chest and throat. When the muscles that separate the stomach and the esophagus become too relaxed, stomach acid drifts upward to the sensitive, mucous membrane-lined passage. These symptoms may not happen very often. So, taking over-the-counter medications will usually resolve it quickly. But if you get heartburn more frequently than usual, and it’s making your life uncomfortable, it may be time to seek medical help.
The pH of gastric acid is between 1.5-3.5. For comparison, battery acid has a pH of around 0.8, so the discomfort heartburn can cause really is no joking matter! If you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, or if your goal is to lose weight healthily, heartburn and other indigestion symptoms can cause frustration and unnecessary anguish. To make it worse, you may not realize that consuming certain foods and drinks can actually exacerbate heartburn symptoms.
Medical Weight Loss with or without bariatric surgery is a challenging enough journey, without the burning pain of heartburn. And even if you’re not on a weight-loss journey, recurring heartburn symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable. At Southern Nevada Bariatrics, Las Vegas, board-certified bariatric surgeon Dr. Mustsafa Ahmed can help you find short-term and long-term relief. Call us directly at (702) 626-0499 or fill out a simple contact form to book your personal consultation.
- 1 Not Just Indigestion?
- 2 Heartburn Treatments
- 3 When to See a Doctor
- 4 Personal Consultation
- 5 Cost of Heartburn Treatment in Las Vegas, NV
- 6 FAQ
- 7 References
Not Just Indigestion?
Around 30% of the population experiences heartburn. Similar numbers experience indigestion on a regular basis. Despite this, a recent survey of over 71,000 Americans found that fewer than two in 10 participants received evaluation or management from a healthcare provider for their G.I. symptoms. (1)
Overall, people in the United States have some of the least healthy diets and least active lifestyles in the world. Our diet is high in saturated fats and low in key nutrients, we eat too much too quickly, and we don’t get enough regular exercise. (2) These factors can contribute to the prevalence of gastrointestinal problems like heartburn, dyspepsia (indigestion), constipation, and stomach ulcers. They also contribute to the country’s growing weight problem, as increasing numbers of people have a body mass index over 30, the medical classification of obesity.
Although not everyone who experiences occasional indigestion has an underlying condition, ongoing heartburn symptoms are strongly associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Heartburn (often worse at night)
- Chest Pain
- “Lump in Throat” Sensation
- Excessive Salivation
Some people experience less common symptoms with GERD. These include persistent cough and hoarseness, chronic sore throat, and difficulty swallowing.
GERD and Weight-Loss Surgery
Reflux and heartburn symptoms can sometimes get worse following weight-loss surgery. such as a Sleeve Gastrectomy or the placement of a laparoscopic (lap) band. This may mean something is wrong, or the patient isn’t following dietary advice.
Foods & Drinks to Avoid
Unfortunately, there’s no catch-all GERD prevention diet out there. But to limit the risk of heartburn and other indigestion symptoms, avoid or restrict your intake of the following.
- Caffeinated Drinks
- Carbonated Drinks (e.g. Cola)
- Citrus Fruits
- Fast Food
- Fried/Greasy Foods
- Fatty Foods
- Full-Fat Dairy (e.g. Butter)
- Mint Flavor Gum
- Processed Meats
- Processed Snacks (e.g. Potato Chips)
- Spicy Foods
- Tomato-Based Sauces (Including Ketchup & Salsa)
- Whey Protein
Other Ways to Limit GERD
One of the ways you can limit heartburn and other GERD symptoms is by recording what you eat, and finding your trigger foods. Once you recognize the foods that give you the most trouble, avoid eating them where possible! You can also make the following lifestyle changes.
- Lose excess weight.
- Quit smoking and/or drinking alcohol.
- Eat slowly and deliberately.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Wait an hour after eating before you exercise.
- Wait at least 3 hours after eating before lying down.
- Avoid late-night meals and snacks.
If you don’t get heartburn very often, and it resolves quickly, a trip to the doctor may not be necessary. There are many over-the-counter medications for symptoms of indigestion available at your nearest pharmacy, including the following.
Antacids are chalky medications that relieve indigestion symptoms. They are also used to treat peptic ulcers. Tablet antacids include Tums and Rolaids, while antacids like Mylanta, are often available in liquid form. These medications contain calcium salts such as calcium carbonate, and may also contain magnesium and aluminum compounds.
When you take an antacid, it neutralizes the stomach acid, quickly relieving the burning sensation. But although they can help relieve symptoms of heartburn, chronic use of antacids is not recommended by medical professionals. (3) Taken in excess, antacids can cause constipation, muscle weakness, and even breathing issues.
Histamine-2 blockers (H-2 blockers) reduce the amount of stomach acid your body produces by blocking nerve receptors. The FDA approved these medications for the treatment of GERD without other complications. H-2 blockers come in capsule and tablet form, but there are also powders to make oral suspensions and chewable tablets.
Like antacids, H-2 blockers are for short-term use only. They’re not as instant as antacids, and may take between 1-3 hours to work, but patients can safely combine antacids and H-2 inhibitors for short- and long-term symptom relief. (4) These medications include Pepcid Complete (famotidine), Tagamet HB (cimetidine), and Axid AR (nizatidine).
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are newer medications for heartburn. They take longer to work, around 1-4 days, so you may not find immediate relief from burning and discomfort. They are also only intended for short-term treatment – up to 14 days at a time, a maximum of three times a year. (5) Common PPIs include the following.
- Nexium 24HR (esomeprazole)
- Prevacid 24HR (lansoprazole)
- Prilosec OTC (omeprazole magnesium)
- Zegerid OTC (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate)
When to See a Doctor
Everyone gets indigestion every now and again. But if your heartburn comes back again and again, you should arrange an appointment to see a specialist. Get help from Dr. Ahmed in the following circumstances.
- Heartburn more than twice in one week
- Little-to-no success with over-the-counter medications
- Difficulty swallowing/a persistent “lump” in the throat
- Trouble eating enough because of your heartburn
- Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting often
Serious Chest Pain
One of the symptoms of heartburn is chest pain. But you should be mindful of other more serious conditions that can feel similar. Severe chest pain and trouble breathing may signal a heart attack. Seek emergency care as soon as possible if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Find relief from heartburn and GERD! Get in touch with Southern Nevada Bariatrics to book a consultation with leading weight-loss surgeon and gastric health expert Dr. Mustafa Ahmed. Call us to book your appointment at (702) 626-0499.
Dr. Ahmed will review your medical history and ask you about the frequency of your heartburn symptoms. He will ask you to describe your diet and lifestyle, how you feel after your meals, and whether you only get heartburn, or if you get other symptoms associated with GERD.
Your physical examination may include these tests.
- Esophageal pH Monitoring: This test measures the amount of stomach acid entering the esophagus.
- Endoscopy: An endoscopy allows Dr. Ahmed to visualize the inside of the digestive tract. A small camera on a thin endoscope is introduced to the area for closer examination.
- Manometry: Esophageal manometry measures the strength and pressure of muscle contraction at the upper opening of the stomach.
Based on his findings, Dr. Ahmed will create a treatment plan to manage your heartburn symptoms and get you back to feeling healthy and comfortable again!
Heartburn After Bariatric Surgery
We see many patients every year looking for solutions to heartburn, excessive nausea, inadequate weight-loss, and weight gain. If you have undergone bariatric surgery, Dr. Ahmed will ask you to give him some procedure details, and ask you when your heartburn and GERD symptoms started to get worse. Similarly, if your surgery hasn’t produced the results you want, please contact us. Dr. Ahmed may recommend a Revision Surgery or Gastric Band Removal to get your weight-loss plan back on track.
Cost of Heartburn Treatment in Las Vegas, NV
Book a personal consultation with Dr. Ahmed at Southern Nevada Bariatrics and manage your heartburn symptoms effectively with professional help! Call (702) 626-0499 for more details about the cost of your treatment, and to arrange your appointment.
Find out how to fight heartburn, lose excess weight, and discover more about weight-loss surgery by reading Dr. Ahmed’s blog.
If I get heartburn, do I have GERD?
If you only get occasional heartburn, and it goes away quickly, you probably don’t have GERD. But if you get heartburn twice or more a week, you should see a doctor for an evaluation.
What foods are best to limit heartburn?
Some foods that limit the chance of getting heartburn and indigestion include whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice, root vegetables like carrots and beets, lean meats like chicken and turkey, ginger root, and watermelon.
What happens if you don’t treat heartburn?
Many people think they can just keep taking over-the-counter medications like antacids for heartburn. But chronic heartburn can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause more serious issues like esophageal tearing and scarring without professional treatment.
- Almario CV, Ballal ML, Chey WD, Nordstrom C, Khanna D, Spiegel BMR. Burden of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in the United States: Results of a Nationally Representative Survey of Over 71,000 Americans. The American journal of gastroenterology. 2018;113(11):1701-1710. doi:10.1038/s41395-018-0256-8
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols, Wartella EA, Lichtenstein AH, Boon CS. Overview of Health and Diet in America. Nih.gov. Published 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209844/
- Singh P, Terrell JM. Antacids. Nih.gov. Published August 27, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526049/
- Nugent CC, Terrell JM. H2 Blockers. Nih.gov. Published May 7, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525994/
- Research C for DE and. Over-The-Counter (OTC) Heartburn Treatment. FDA. Published online March 12, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-consumers-and-patients-drugs/over-counter-otc-heartburn-treatment