We commonly encounter this question and most of the people are young with severe anxiety due to their google search has landed them to think – it could be an “heart attack”, the word itself gives a sense of near death situation.
I would try to alleviate anxiety surrounding this symptoms and try to suggest remedies and management for this symptoms in this blog. This is for educational purpose and I strongly recommend to follow your doctor’s advice on this matter.
Question 1: What causes heart burn?
- Heart-burn is a symptom with various descriptions like retrosternal burning, chest pain, acidity, gas etc.
- GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) is commonest cause of heart burn where stomach acid comes up in esophagus and give rise to symptoms.
- Other causes like Peptic ulcer disease, Gastritis, Gastroparesis, Esophageal ulcer can give rise to heart burn
Question 2: Do I need any evaluation for heart burn?
- Your doctor can easily differentiate your symptoms of GERD from others
- We need to look into following ‘alarm symptoms’ which needs further evaluation:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Recurrent vomitings
- Blood loss in stool
- Low hemoglobin
- Feeling of lump in abdomen
- Not responding to medicines
Question 3: What is Endoscopy and how it will help in heartburn?
- Endoscopy (Upper) is direct visualization of esophagus, stomach and duodenum by passing small tube through the mouth.
- Endoscopy can be helpful in proper diagnosis of GERD (with complications of GERD like ulcerations, esophagitis, stricture, mass) and also to differentiate it from other causes of heart burn.
Question 4: What are remedies for Heart burn?
- Avoid spicy food, soft drinks, Tea-coffee, chocolates
- Avoid late night dinner. Better to avoid lying down in bed for 2-3 hours after meals
- To elevate head end up by putting some bricks at head end of the bed.
- Don’t skip your breakfast and avoid prolonged fasting
Question 5: Do I need prolonged treatment?
- Most people will improve with medications which can reduce acid content of stomach, but feels recurrence of symptoms after stoppage of medication – Consult your doctor and avoid unnecessary self-medications
- Lifestyle modification as advised is useful to get rid of medications.
Question 6: How to differentiate it from cardiac pain?
- Cardiac pain many times gives similar symptoms, hence it advisable to get cardiac checkup once by doctor
- Avoid unnecessary anxiety once doctor has ruled out cardiac cause and stick to doctor’s advice.
Thanks and regards,
Dr Sandip P Shah
GASTROPLUS Digestive Disease Centre and Advanced Endoscopy Clinic, Ahmedabad.
GASTROPLUS Team: Dr Sandip P Shah, Dr Ravindra Gaadhe, Dr Kunal Bhardwaj, Dr Ram Parihar