By Deni Hui, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy
Curist delivers FDA-approved medicines to your door at half the price of traditional brands. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time.
There is a lot of misleading information out there about heartburn, what it could mean, and how to treat it. This article can help you separate heartburn facts from myths!
Myth #1: Heartburn is a Sign of a Heart Attack
Fact: False. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, a condition in which acidic fluid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus, or the swallowing tube. It is not caused by a heart condition. The discomfort of heartburn is often associated with a burning sensation directly beneath the breastbone, causing many people to immediately think it is related to the heart, although it is not. The discomfort is usually accompanied by burping, symptoms of bloating or gas. Sometimes, an acid taste occurs in the mouth. Heartburn symptoms typically get worse after eating a large meal, using tobacco, or consuming alcohol or caffeine, and tend to improve after taking antacids. Keep in mind that while heartburn can cause chest pain near your heart, this condition is not heart related. The symptoms of heartburn and heart attack are very different but can feel similar. It is important to know when to seek medical help.
Myth #2: Chewing Gum Can Ease My Heartburn
Fact: True. When you chew gum, your mouth creates saliva which acts as a natural barrier to acid. It may help ease the burning feeling you may experience when you get heartburn. To learn more about the different ways to help reduce your heartburn symptoms, please check out Curist’s other articles:
Myth #3: Milk or Cream Calms Heartburn Symptoms
Fact: False. Based on the latest scientific findings, doctors do not recommend drinking milk or cream to reduce heartburn. It has been proven that milk temporarily relieves heartburn symptoms only to later increase acid production in the stomach, which causes more heartburn.
Myth #4: Heartburn is No Big Deal. It is Just a Minor, Trivial Complaint
Fact: False. Heartburn is common, but it is not trivial! In fact, frequent heartburn can severely impact your quality of life, productivity and daily activities. Besides, persistent heartburn that occurs more than 2 times a week could be a symptom of a more serious condition called GERD, which, if left untreated, can contribute to a wide range of problems such as ulcers of the esophagus, asthma, and chronic cough. These complications may be avoided with proper monitoring from a physician. Remember, people with heartburn do not need to suffer in silence. Changes in diet and lifestyle as well as a fast-growing range of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can provide relief for most heartburn sufferers. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing any of these conditions and/or if you want to turn to OTC heartburn treatment options.
Myth #5: Heartburn is My Fault
Fact: False. Heartburn is a medical condition with real biological causes, and people who suffer from heartburn need not compound their discomfort with shame and guilt. While it is true that certain lifestyle habits and the foods and beverages you eat and drink can aggravate your heartburn symptoms, many people make significant lifestyle changes to fight heartburn but still experience heartburn symptoms. Once again, heartburn is not your fault and there are many ways you can manage the discomfort of heartburn through lifestyle changes and OTC medications.
Myth #6: I Will Always Have to Live with Heartburn and It Will Never Go Away
Fact: False. Heartburn affects about 20 percent of the population in the U.S., and having heartburn once in a while is common, but suffering from nighttime heartburn or frequent heartburn on two or more days per week can have a big impact on your life. While there may be no known cure for heartburn, some OTC treatments can actually stop heartburn and provide long-lasting symptom relief. H2-blockers like Pepcid® can help reduce acid for up to 12 hours. Proton pump inhibitors (Eg. Omeprazole, available at Curist here; Esomeprazole, available at Curist here) more effectively inhibit acid production, and offer 24-hour symptom relief from heartburn with one daily pill, so you can go about your daily life without constantly worrying about your symptoms.
Myth #7: If I Take a Drug to Suppress Acid Production, I Won’t be Able to Digest My Food
Fact: False. Our bodies produce stomach acid to help break down proteins, carbohydrates and fat from the food in the stomach and to kill bacteria. Even OTC proton pump inhibitors (Eg. Omeprazole, available at Curist here; Esomeprazole, available at Curist here) which work directly on active acid pumps in the stomach to significantly inhibit acid production, allow enough acid to be produced so that normal food digestion occurs.
If you want to learn more about heartburn and various relief options, check out Curist’s other articles about heartburn: