What is acid reflux?
A circular muscle, known as the lower oesophageal sphincter (LES), connects your oesophagus and stomach. This muscle oversees the tightening of your oesophagus after the food is passed to the stomach. If this muscle is weak or does not function properly, the acid from your stomach can travel back to your oesophagus. This is called as acid reflux.
Acid reflux can result in heartburn and other symptoms like:
- sore throat
- bitter taste in the throat
- sour taste in the mouth
- burning and pressure that can spread up to the breastbone
Certain home remedies for acid reflux can help relieve your discomfort. Home remedies or over-the-counter antacids can be some of the safest bets when it comes to acid reflux medication.
What is heartburn?
Coming to heartburn, it’s surprising to know that the heart has nothing to do with it. Heartburn happens in your digestive system, and more specifically, in your oesophagus. Heartburn includes mild to severe burning sensation or pain in the chest. It’s often mistaken for the pain caused by a heart attack.
The lining of the oesophagus is different as compared to the lining of the stomach. The acid in the oesophagus, therefore, causes a burning sensation in your chest. The pain may feel sharp, like a burning sensation, or similar to a tightening sensation. Some people may define heartburn as a burning sensation that moves around the neck and throat or as an uneasiness that feels like it has originated behind the breastbone.
Heartburn is a condition that’s commonly experienced in today’s times. It is usually experienced after eating. You may be able to decrease the frequency of experiencing heartburn by:
- losing weight
- eating fewer fatty foods
- avoiding spicy or acidic foods
- quitting smoking
Mild, occasional heartburn can be treated with medications like antacids. If you want a quick and safe heartburn treatment, try Gaviscon World’s No. 1 Heartburn specialist ^, that lasts upto 2X longer vs. Ordinary antacids*.
Your heartburn may be a sign of a more severe problem like acid reflux or GERD.
What is GERD?
GERD is a severe form of acid reflux. It is identified when acid reflux happens more than twice in a week or causes inflammation in the oesophagus.* Long-term harm to the oesophagus may eventually lead to cancer. Pain from GERD may or may not be treated with antacids or other over the counter (OTC) medication.
GERD symptoms are:
- bad breath
- damage to tooth enamel owing to excess acid
- chest pain
- dry cough
- trouble swallowing
Most people can experience heartburn and acid reflux, occasionally related to something they ate or habits like lying down right after their meal. GERD is more of a chronic illness where doctors begin to observe old habits and the parts of a person’s anatomy that could cause GERD.
Examples of some of the causes of GERD are:
- excess weight or obesity, which puts extra pressure on the stomach
- hiatal hernia, which decreases pressure in the LES (lower esophageal sphincter)
- taking medicines known to deteriorate the LES, such as antihistamines, calcium channel blockers, pain-relieving medicines, sedatives, and antidepressants
GERD may disturb your daily life. Luckily, they can typically be controlled with treatments that include:
- diet alteration
- weight loss
- quitting smoking and alcohol
Treatments for GERD work to decrease the amount of acid in the stomach. They may not be effective for everyone. Some people may need surgery to support the LES.
When should you see a doctor for your heartburn and GERD?
Symptoms of heartburn may mimic that of a heart attack. You should call upon your doctor immediately if your heartburn discomfort and chest pain get worse. Also, call the doctor if the heartburn or chest pain is accompanied by:
- struggled breathing
- pain in your arm or jaw
Sometimes GERD symptoms can demand the need for emergency medical attention. These symptoms are:
- regular, forceful (projectile) vomiting
- difficulty breathing
- difficulty swallowing
- vomiting fluid with bright red blood
Not all heartburn requires medical care. Occasional and mild heartburn can be treated with antacids and changes in your lifestyle. Experiencing rare acid reflux is not a cause for concern. To know more about Gaviscon, click here.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you experience heartburn two or more times a week or if over-the-counter medications don’t relieve your discomfort.
^Claim based on information aggregated and reported in part from data supplied by Nielsen through its Retail Measurement Services for the defined category (RB defined) for the 12 month period ending June 2020, for the defined RB geographic focus.
*Comparing Gaviscon with select ordinary antacid
- Chevrel B. A comparative crossover study on the treatment of heartburn and epigastric pain: Liquid Gaviscon and a magnesium--aluminium antacid gel. J Int Med Res. 1980;8(4):300-2.
- Mandel KG etal. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Jun;14(6):669-90
As established in:
- Theo Scholten. Long-term management of gastroesophageal reflux disease with pantoprazole. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2007 Jun; 3(2): 231–243.
- J Dent, J Brun, A Fendrick, M Fennerty, J Janssens, P Kahrilas, K Lauritsen, J Reynolds, M Shaw, and N Talley. An evidence-based appraisal of reflux disease management — the Genval Workshop Report. Gut. 1999 Apr; 44(Suppl 2): S1–S16.
Article published 1 July 2021