General Practice 2022

Constant heartburn: what it can be and what to do

Constant heartburn: what it can be and what to do
Constant heartburn: what it can be and what to do

The presence of constant heartburn can be a consequence of gastroesophageal reflux or gastritis, or it can be due to factors such as wrong diet, nervousness or wearing too tight clothes, which end up impairing the digestion of food, in addition to this It is important to remember that in women, heartburn can be a symptom of pregnancy.

However, if the causes are not identified, they can become a more serious problem, requiring the search for a gastroenterologist, especially when other symptoms arise such as swelling, abdominal discomfort, coughing up blood and chest pain.

Regardless of the cause, treatment for constant heartburn is done with antacids to decrease stomach acidity and change in eating habits. Only in rare cases is surgery indicated to solve the problem.

The main cause of heartburn is reflux, however there are also other causes that justify this burning:

1. Backflow

In gastroesophageal reflux, there is an involuntary return of the content that is in the stomach to the esophagus, causing intense discomfort because it is a very acidic content.

In cases of reflux, the most common symptom is heartburn, in addition to intense pain in the chest region, similar to the pain of a heart attack or angina, dry cough and even respiratory problems such as asthma and pneumonia.

What to do: some simple measures can be taken to relieve discomfort, such as avoiding lying down right after eating, sleeping with the head elevated, as well as taking care of food, avoiding the consumption of coffee, alcohol, fatty foods and acidic drinks, for example. See more feeding tips and what to do to prevent reflux:

2. Hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernia is a problem that facilitates reflux and therefore is another of the main causes of constant heartburn. Hiatal hernia is usually more common in people who are overweight, who smoke, or who exercise excessively.

Symptoms are mild and very similar to reflux, including indigestion especially when lying down after eating, and worsening when the person bends over, strains, or lifts heavy objects.

What to do: it is advisable to eat slowly and more times a day, avoid heavy meals at least two hours before going to sleep, lie down with the head of the bed elevated, avoid fatty foods, acids, alcohol, cigarettes, in cases of overweight or obesity, weight loss is advised. See more about preventing reflux caused by a hiatal hernia.

3. Gastritis

Gastritis is the irritation or inflammation that occurs in the stomach caused by infections, stress, allergies, use of some medications and changes in the immune system.Symptoms depend on the type of gastritis and can be abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea and vomiting, indigestion and feeling full even after a small meal. Here's how to identify the symptoms of gastritis.

What to do: it is recommended to reduce the consumption of foods that increase stomach acidity, such as spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, fatty foods or plain milk. It is also important to avoid fasting for a long time, as in these cases there is a greater accumulation of gastric acid in the stomach, which worsens inflammation. The use of medication that reduces the production of gastric juice, such as an antacid for example, is also indicated.

4. Esophagitis

Esophagitis is an inflammation that occurs in the esophagus, which occurs mainly due to reflux, but can also be a consequence of an allergic reaction to a certain food. The symptoms are very similar to those of gastritis, but in addition to these, there can also be difficulties in swallowing, loss of appetite, and a feeling that the ingested food is stuck in the throat, not making its way to the stomach as it should.

What to do: the use of corticosteroid medication will help to coat the esophagus and control the inflammation caused and therefore, if you suspect esophagitis, you should consult a gastroenterologist. Some dietary adjustments should also be made, such as eliminating foods with wheat flour, milk and derivatives, seafood, nuts, eggs and soy, helping to relieve and prevent reflux symptoms, for example. In addition, it is necessary to identify the type of food that caused the allergy and completely remove it from the diet. See how esophagitis is treated.

5. Pregnancy

In pregnant women, heartburn can be present from the beginning of pregnancy, because of the hormonal change that occurs and also because of the growth of the belly. With the increase in the production of the hormone progesterone, there is also, unintentionally, the relaxation of the stomach muscles causing acids to rise into the esophagus, causing the feeling of constant heartburn.

What to do: It is recommended to eat more often, eat smaller portions more times a day, avoid drinking liquids during meals, not lie down immediately after meal and wear comfortable clothes. See more tips on how to relieve heartburn in pregnancy.

6. Food intolerance

Food intolerance is a difficulty that the body has to digest certain ingested foods, such as lactose or gluten intolerance. Digestion is slower because the body no longer has as many enzymes responsible for degrading certain nutrients, so there is an accumulation of these nutrients in the stomach causing gastric discomfort, such as colic, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and heartburn.

It is also very common in people who have food intolerance associated symptoms such as: swelling and abdominal pain, excessive tiredness, itching or spots on the skin. Learn how to identify if it is food intolerance.

What to do: it is important to identify the type of food that is causing the intolerance. symptoms appeared throughout the day. Once the food is identified, it is important to completely cut out the food. Another way to alleviate the symptoms of food intolerance is the use of medicines with enzymes, which help with digestion, as is the case with lactase in lactose intolerance.

7. Wearing tight clothing

Wearing uncomfortable and tight clothing can cause the stomach to press, which causes gastric acids to rise into the esophagus, causing reflux and heartburn.

What to do: It is interesting to choose light and comfortable clothes, which do not put too much pressure on the belly region, as is the case with tight pants and belts.

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