Is my frequent heartburn my fault?

Heartburn is a medical condition with biological causes. Certain lifestyle factors, including diet, may aggravate heartburn. In some cases, dietary and lifestyle changes can prevent heartburn.

Do I have any control over my frequent heartburn?

Yes! There are things you can do to reduce or eliminate your discomfort. Diet and lifestyle changes, and a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications, can provide significant relief to heartburn sufferers. More rarely, surgery or other techniques may be required.

Can I just ignore my frequent heartburn, since it's not a serious illness?

Heartburn can not only seriously impact your daily life and productivity-not to mention comfort-but frequent or persistent heartburn can be a symptom of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a more serious condition that can cause a number of conditions including ulcers of the esophagus, asthma, and in rare cases, esophageal cancer. Having a physician monitor your heartburn can help you avoid these complications.

Are there any medications that prevent frequent heartburn?
  • Some of the newer OTC medications can prevent heartburn, in addition to providing relief from symptoms. Acid Reducers work by reducing acid for up to 12 hours. These can be an appropriate choice for sufferers of episodic or occasional heartburn.
  • PPIs are the only OTC medication specifically indicated for treating frequent heartburn. PPIs work by inhibiting stomach acid production at its source--the enzyme system in the wall of the stomach that is commonly called the 'proton pump'. PPIs treat symptoms for a full 24 hours with just one daily pill. Use as directed for 14 days for treating frequent heartburn. Not intended for immediate relief of heartburn; these drugs may take 1 to 4 days for full effect.
If PPIs inhibit acid production, how does the stomach digest food?

PPIs allow enough acid to be produced so food can be digested as normal. The stomach also uses enzymes, which are not affected by PPIs, to aid digestion.

Should I be concerned about taking a PPI like Omeprazole or Lansoprazole?
  • As with all medicines, you should read the label completely before taking these products. Specifically, If you are allergic to the active ingredient in the Omeprazole or Lansoprazole product, don't take that product. Additionally, if you have trouble swallowing food, vomiting with blood, bloody or black stools, you should consult your doctor, as these could be signs of a serious condition.
  • Ask a doctor before using these products if you have had heartburn for over three months. This may be a sign of a more serious condition. You should also consult your doctor if you have heartburn with lightheadedness, sweating or dizziness, frequent chest pain, frequent wheezing with heartburn, unexplained weight loss, nausea or vomiting or stomach pain. Symptoms including chest or shoulder pain with shortness of breath, sweating, pain spreading to arms, neck and shoulders or lightheadedness should also be discussed with your doctor before using these products.
  • You should stop use of these products and consult a doctor if you get diarrhea or your heartburn continues or worsens or if you need to take these products for more than 14 days or more than one course of treatment every four months.
  • People taking certain medications should consult their doctor before taking these products; medications like blood thinners, prescription antifungal or anti-yeast medicines, anxiety or heart medicines. People with certain symptoms or health issues should also consult their doctor before taking these products.