Help for heartburn sufferers

Your daily caffeine habit could be giving you heartburn. Credit: Getty Images
Your daily caffeine habit could be giving you heartburn.
Credit: Getty Images

The question: Large meals keep me awake at night with heartburn. Help!

Heartburn, or as it is more officially known, Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), produces a variety of symptoms that may include: chest pain or burning, belching, a sore throat, an acid or bitter taste, coughing, hoarseness and bad breath. These are due to acid reflux — that is, acid from your stomach which is backed-up into your esophagus, where it causes irritation and the symptoms we commonly call heartburn or indigestion.

Acid is usually blocked from the esophagus by a constricting sphincter muscle at the entrance to the stomach. This muscle sometimes becomes weakened as we age. Body position (lying down or bending over) or eating a large meal may push acidic stomach fluids into the esophagus. Certain foods, like citrus juice, alcohol, pepper, caffeine, peppermint and carbonated beverages, may also contribute to GERD. Increased abdominal pressure due to obesity and pregnancy can similarly result in acid reflux.

GERD should be properly diagnosed and treated as it not only results in discomfort, but may make you at increased risk for bleeding, narrowing of your esophagus or even esophageal cancer. Diagnostic tests may include an endoscopy with a fiber-optic scope to look into your upper digestive system, a measure of the acidity in the esophagus and stomach or X-rays that look at the motion of the esophagus as you swallow solids and liquids.

Treatment includes modifying your diet to eliminate contributing factors like caffeine and acidic and spicy foods. It also includes modifying your habits to reduce your meal size and eliminate tobacco and alcohol. If you are bothered by clear-cut symptoms of acid reflux, a trial of one of the common over-the-counter acid blocking products is usually worthwhile prior to seeking advanced relief. For stubborn symptoms, stronger medication to decrease or block the amount of acid secreted by the stomach may be prescribed by your physician after an evaluation to look for complicating factors.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

South Korea ferry fugitive found dead with bags…

By Ju-min Park and Sohee KimSUNCHEON/INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea's most wanted man, whose heavily decomposed body was found in an orchard last…

Local

New Yorkers are nation's unhappiest residents: Study

New Yorkers aren't a happy bunch, at least to a new study released by a nonprofit economic research group.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

Movies

Interview: 'Happy Christmas' director Joe Swanberg on making…

"Happy Christmas" filmmaker Joe Swanberg talks about the collaborative nature of his films with name actors and the difficulties of getting indies seen.

Gossip

Is Justin Bieber now a Calvin Klein underwear…

A source told the Daily Mail that Justin Bieber "has shot for Calvin Klein" and that they "hope the results will be released later this year." While probably…

Gossip

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Movies

Interview: Melanie Lynskey on making it up as…

"Happy Christmas" star Melanie Lynskey talks about what it's like to be in the largely improvised films of Joe Swanberg and the subplot they didn't shoot.

NFL

3 storylines to watch as Jets open training…

Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be in for an even tougher job in 2014 after arguably his best coaching job last season.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.