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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.