Heartburn in Focus
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NarratorWhat gives you heartburn?
: Food, spicy foods. Often times I'll eat, say like a big meal and it'll just like take over. Spicy foods, fried foods.
NarratorAlmost everyone has a bout of heartburn every now and then: fatty, greasy foods, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol can bring it on by relaxing the sphincter muscle on the lower end of the esophagus. When the sphincter doesn't close tightly enough, acid-laden contents of the stomach can flow up.
Ira KatzHeartburn's a symptom
NarratorIra Katz, a pharmacist in Atlanta, has been helping customers find relief from heartburn symptoms for nearly 30 years.
Ira KatzIf they don't initiate the conversation, we try to initiate the conversation; you know what's going on? How long have you had it? Was it something you ate last night or is it something that's been persistent? What have you tried in the past? Are you taking any medications?
NarratorAnd knowing what other medications a patient's on can be critical: Meds for high blood pressure, asthma, anxiety, and Parkinson's disease may all cause heartburn under certain conditions. Everyday pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin too.
Ira KatzThey can bring on all kinds of heartburn issues. So it's very important to make sure the patients are taking that with some food.
NarratorThe most common over-the-counter medicines for heartburn include Antacids, liquid or tablet form, which work by neutralizing stomach acid. H2 blockers which reduce stomach acid production. And Proton pump-inhibitors, which halt stomach acid production almost altogether.
CustomerIt's more occasional…doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason to it.
Ira KatzSome patients have a real disposition to it
NarratorYour pharmacist may advise against taking over the counter heartburn products in combination with certain prescriptions:
Ira KatzA very typical example is some of the antibiotics that some patients may be taking and they're taking antacids…they can diminish the overall effect of the antibiotic so that's important.
: (birds chirping)
NarratorSimple lifestyle changes can also help cool the burn: lose weight, if you're over-weight — obesity increases abdominal pressure which can push acid back into your esophagus; avoid tight-fitting clothes for the same reason; stop smoking — chemicals in cigarettes can weaken the sphincter muscle; avoid lying down for 2 to 3 hours after eating
: Hi I'm Doctor Boyer
NarratorBut if a combo of lifestyle changes and over the counter heartburn products don't nix your symptoms, a doctor's appointment is in order to rule out a more serious problem like GERD, or acid reflux disease — a chronic condition that may require more extensive treatment. For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.
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