Burning pain in the chest and overall digestive discomfort with certain foods is a frustrating problem. San Marcos Family Medicine in San Marcos, Texas, and the surrounding Central Texas communities can work with patients to help treat heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease so that they can enjoy a healthy quality of life free from this discomfort and pain.

Heartburn Q & A

What is heartburn?

Heartburn occurs when acid from the stomach flows up into the esophagus. This can cause indigestion, chest pain, and burning in the throat because the acids in the stomach irritate the esophagus, which doesn’t have the same protections that the stomach has.

What is GERD?

GERD, also known as acid reflux, is a chronic condition occurring when the ring of muscles that keeps the stomach contents where they belong doesn’t work correctly. This allows acid and other liquid stomach contents to flow into the stomach, causing symptoms like:

  • Regurgitation
  • Intense heartburn
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Feeling a lump in the throat

GERD can occur without the typical heartburn symptoms. If a patient’s unsure about whether symptoms indicate GERD or heartburn, the doctors at San Marcos Family Medicine can assist.

How are GERD and heartburn different?

GERD is a chronic medical condition, and heartburn is one of the potential effects of GERD. Heartburn can also occur for other reasons, such as the presence of a food trigger or poor lifestyle choices. GERD typically lasts for weeks and causes other symptoms. The doctors at San Marcos Family Medicine can help patients distinguish between the two.

How can a patient reduce the risk of heartburn attacks?

Heartburn can have a number of triggers, and avoiding those triggers helps stop attacks from happening. Food triggers may include:

  • Chocolate
  • Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
  • Garlic
  • Spicy foods
  • Peppermints
  • Black pepper
  • Vinegar
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Alcohol

Most patients have triggers that are unique to them, and finding and avoiding that trigger can help. Increasing exercise, stopping smoking, practicing portion control, and reducing stress can also help minimize heartburn attacks. For heartburn that happens at night, sleeping in an elevated position helps. For additional information about how to best treat and manage heartburn, talk to the doctors at San Marcos Family Medicine.

What treatments are available for heartburn?

Most people experience occasional heartburn. Those experiencing chronic problems will want to schedule an appointment with San Marcos Family Medicine. Treatments include lifestyle changes, antacids, H2 inhibitors, and proton pump inhibitors.