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Friday, October 22, 2021

The 8 signs your ‘innocent’ heartburn is something more serious

HEARTBURN is something that afflicts millions every day.

It is usually harmless and will go away within a day – causing an uncomfortable afternoon.

Heartburn can indicate something more sinister is going on, or be mistaken instead of something more serious
Heartburn can indicate something more sinister is going on, or be mistaken instead of something more seriousCredit: Getty – Contributor

But sometimes it can be an indication of something more serious that needs to be looked at.

Recent research has linked heartburn to an increased risk of cancer and heart attacks.

In light of this, there are eight warning signs that mean you should contact your doctor:

  • Your heartburn won’t go away.
  • Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
  • It’s hard or hurts to swallow.
  • Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
  • You have had unexpected weight loss.
  • You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and still have heartburn symptoms.
  • You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
  • You have serious hoarseness or wheezing

What could severe heartburn mean?

Cancer

More specifically, cancer of the larynx and oesophagus.

Stomach acid flowing back to the oesophagus causes tissue damage, which can than lead to the development of oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

According to Linas Venclauskas, a bariatric surgeon at Nordbariatric Clinic, despite heartburn not being directly life-threatening, it can significantly impair a person’s quality of life.

He said: “If not treated, it may lead to Barrett’s oesophagus, which is a precancerous disease affecting the lining of the oesophagus.

“Persistent peptic esophagitis may cause scarring in the oesophagus, and therefore food has difficulties getting into the stomach. For this reason, people complain of constant chest pains or discomfort in the chest region and epigastric area when eating.”

Hiatus hernia

This is when part of the stomach pushes up into the lower chest through a weakness in the diaphragm.

The condition is usually found during a test to find out the cause of heartburn or chest pain.

It is quite common in people over 50 and doesn’t normally need treatment if not too severe.

But if it is being accompanied by regular heartburn then it might need to be dealt with through an operation or medication.

Peptic ulcer disease

People with this condition can often mistake it for heartburn.

The symptoms are similar, but also a symptom of the disease is heartburn.

Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, burning pain and discolour stool, due to bleeding.

It’s not too serious generally, with a doctor prescribing medications to relieve the symptoms and help the ulcer heal.

Heart attack

Heart attacks can also often be mistaken for heartburn.

The general rule is if you aren’t sure, seek help.

But the most common symptoms of heart trouble include tightness, pain, a rapid heartbeat, clammy skin, indigestion and nausea.

Heartburn’s main symptoms are a burning chest pain, a bitter taste, pain that is worse when you lie down, pain moving to your throat after a large or spicy meal.

Popular heartburn medicine Pepcid being used in new coronavirus drug trial

Lung problems

Stomach acid can get into your lungs, causing a range of potential respiratory issues.

It can be simple harmless things like coughing, congestion and hoarseness.

But can also lead to more serious conditions like asthma, laryngitis, pneumonia or wheezing.

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