Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest area caused by over produced stomach acid backing up into the food pipe. The burning is usually in the upper and central regions of the chest. The burning can get worse or can be brought on by lying flat or on the right side. Pregnancy tends to exaggerate heartburn.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Heartburn’s most common symptom is a burning sensation in the chest which may be accompanied by chest pain. Heartburn can be associated with other symptoms such as:
- A sour taste in the mouth,
- A dry cough,
- A sore throat, and
- difficulty in swallowing
Treatments for Heartburn
- Antacids and Alginates
Antacids are usually available without a doctor’s prescription and alleviate the symptoms of acid indigestion and heartburn. The common ingredients of antacids are magnesium or aluminum and they work by neutralizing the acid produced in the stomach which is the main cause of indigestion and acid reflux. This group often contains sodium alginate which forms a protective coating over the lining of the esophagus and the stomach.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump Inhibitors are compounds which stop the system in the stomach called the proton pump. It is this system which creates acid in the stomach, the sweeping of which into the esophagus causes acid reflux. These compounds are taken in the form of tablets or capsules, in powdered form diluted in water or as injections and are used to cure stomach ulcers and a somewhat rare condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome as well as acid reflux. Omeprazole and Lansoprazole are two popular varieties of this particular type of drug though there are several others available in the market. Side effects of these drugs are rare although they can include diarrhea, constipation, stomach ache, bloating, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches. In extraordinary cases, a severe allergic reaction may result.
- H2-Receptor Antagonists
This group of drugs works by connecting to and blocking the H2 receptor area on stomach cells which, when activated by the naturally produced chemical, histamine, creates acid. Ranitidine is the best known of this drug group, others drugs being Nizatidine, Famotidine, and Cimetidine. Side effects are few to none but can give diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, and tiredness.
Both proton pump inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists are used in combination with antibiotics to get rid of Helicobacter pylori infection which causes stomach ulcers and duodenitis in human beings.
Warning: If symptoms of heartburn persist, consult your doctor. This could be indicative of something more serious than indigestion. Sometimes the symptoms of heart attack are taken to be the symptoms of heart burn. Never start on a course of medication without consulting a doctor or having a thorough checkup, especially if you have cardiovascular health issues. Never take medicines prescribed for someone else because your body may react to medication in a different way.