What does Heartburn Feel Like?
Heartburn is a typical symptom of acid reflux disease and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). However, not everyone who has heartburn is suffering from one of these two conditions. Another cause of heartburn can be a problem with intestinal motility. Furthermore, cardiac problems may also mimic heartburn and this can be very problematic. This is why unexplained chest pain should always be evaluated with EKG and once the cardiac causes are excluded the person may continue with other tests and exams regarding the gastrointestinal system.
Triggers for heartburn may differ among people. However, the characteristics and features of heartburn are almost completely the same. Heartburn develops in a form of a burning sensation and feeling in the chest, just behind the breastbone. It occurs after eating and lasts from few minutes to several hours. Characteristic chest pain particularly intensifies after bending over, lying down or more eating. The person also complains about burning in the throat and he/she may additionally feel hot, sour or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat. The problem can be so intense that one starts to experience difficulties swallowing, a feeling of food 'sticking' in the middle of the chest or throat. In severe cases heartburn leads to chronic cough, sore throat and chronic hoarseness.
The Best Treatments for Heartburn
The problem is effectively dealt with by using suitable medications. All drugs used for heartburn are classified into several groups. They are antacids, H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPI).
Antacids prevent damage to the lining of the stomach and detrimental effects of the stomach acid to the esophagus by neutralizing stomach acid. They contain calcium, aluminum or magnesium in different forms. These medications may not be enough in treatment for heartburn and this is why doctors opt for other drugs as well. H2 blockers are drugs that damp down production of stomach acid. They actually block the action of histamine on parietal cells of the stomach, hence decrease the production of the acid by these cells. And finally, proton pump inhibitors provide with long-lasting reduction of gastric acid precaution. These drugs are the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion.
Previously mentioned medications are not supposed to be used permanently. They have certain side effects which may become more evident if they are taken for longer periods of time. They most definitely provide relief in the initial stage of the problem but one must also take into consideration additional means that may help with long-term battle against heartburn.
People suffering from heartburn should change their lifestyles. They must learn how to cope with stress, make dietary changes and pay attention to what they eat. The food that increases acid production is strictly forbidden and the number of meals per day should be increased. What is more, meals must be light and in a form of small portions. One can receive the best advice regarding heartburn from his/her doctor.