What is Heartburn & Reflux?

Heartburn, despite its name, actually has nothing to do with the heart. However, it is a burning sensation in the chest brought on by stomach acid rising to the oesophagus (acid reflux). The tube that joins your throat and stomach is known as the oesophagus.1 

Can Heartburn be Linked to your Gut Health?  

Heartburn may be your body's way of informing you that something more serious is happening in your body, specifically in your gut.

When we have persistent symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion (another word used to describe heartburn symptoms), these could be a sign of an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.4

The use of probiotics, as well as changes to your diet, could help to avoid heartburn symptoms and other issues that could be caused due to an unhealthy gut.4

Here is a study - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Probiotics: A Systematic Review that shows probiotics can be beneficial in relieving the symptoms of heartburn and reflux.

Symptoms of Heartburn and Acid Reflux 

The most common symptoms of Heartburn and Acid Reflux are as follows:1

  • A burning feeling in your chest
  • The stomach acid causes an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth. 
  • A continuous cough or hiccups 
  • Bloating 
  • Nausea 
  • Bad breath 

After eating, lying down, and leaning over, your symptoms will most likely worsen.

Causes of Heartburn and Acid Reflux

Heartburn affects a large number of people at some point in their lives. There's usually no evident cause for this.1 

However, sometimes heartburn is linked to the following:1 

  • Overweight 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Stress
  • Anxiety 
  • Smoking 
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen 
  • A hiatus hernia is a condition in which a portion of your stomach protrudes into your chest  
  • Food and drinks, alcohol, spicy foods and fatty foods can bring on heartburn and reflux 

Treatments/Remedies for Acid Reflux 

If you persistently suffer from heartburn, a pharmacist may recommend medicines called antacids to help avoid/ease your symptoms. It's recommended to take them with food or shortly after eating, as this is when heartburn is most common. If taken with food, they may work for longer.1

Changing your diet and lifestyle may also help ease your heartburn and reflux; exercising regularly if you are overweight can reduce your chances of experiencing symptoms.1

Eat smaller meals more frequently. You may have heard of the phrase “eating little and often” in cases where you are suffering from heartburn, this could very much be a way of managing those symptoms.1

If these treatment options do not work and you are still experiencing symptoms, you need to contact your GP. They may prescribe you a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), such as omeprazole. These help to reduce the acid production in your stomach.1

Conclusion 

Heartburn and acid reflux are very common and affect the vast majority of people at some point in their lives for various reasons. It's usually simple to treat and can be handled by your pharmacist.

You can also try various treatment methods to ease your symptoms. If you have persistent issues and have tried numerous treatment methods, you should contact your GP to determine the cause of the problem.

References → 1

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