Experiencing heartburn on occasion is relatively normal, but living with heartburn every day is something you should be concerned about. Heartburn is not good for you if you experience it each day, and there are ways you can treat it to stop it from causing damage to your body. If you are not currently treating your heartburn and are not sure if you should be, you may benefit from learning more about what to look for and the damage heartburn can cause.
What Exactly Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation you may feel in your throat and chest. It can be uncomfortable and painful, and it is often the worst when you are lying down at night. Heartburn is a form of acid indigestion. It occurs when acids from your stomach do not digest properly, and these acids end up working their way into your esophagus. When this occurs on occasion, it is nothing to be concerned with, but you should take this issue seriously if you experience this feeling daily.
Daily heartburn is often the result of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and this is often caused when muscles in this area are not working properly. When the muscles relax, they are not able to keep the acids down.
When Should You Seek Help?
Using over-the-counter antacids is a great way to treat heartburn. If you take these daily and they relieve all your symptoms, you might not need medical help. If you take these daily and are not experiencing relief, this may be a good sign that the problem may be more severe than you think. Here are some of the symptoms that should alert you to seek medical help for your heartburn:
- You experience heartburn each day.
- You are forced to sleep upright because of the pain and discomfort.
- You are throwing up frequently.
- You are suffering from pain in your stomach, chest, or abdomen.
- You have a chronic cough that will not go away.
These are all common symptoms of GERD, and GERD can cause major health problems if it is not diagnosed and treated properly.
What Health Problems Can This Lead To?
GERD is a treatable condition, but it will require visiting a doctor. If you have this condition and do not receive treatment, it could affect you in the following ways:
- Damage to your esophagus – The acids that cause the burning sensation do not just make your throat feel like it is burning; they are actually damaging the lining in your esophagus. Your esophagus can only take this for so long before the lining is completely destroyed. This can lead to esophagitis, which is a condition that can cause a lot of pain and difficulty swallowing.
- Damage to your throat – GERD can also permanently damage the lining in your upper throat if left untreated. This will cause you to constantly feel like there is a lump in your throat, and you may feel like you are choking often. You may also cough frequently and speak with a hoarse voice.
The goal of treating GERD is to help the acids stay where they belong. If this is possible, you can prevent further damage to your throat and esophagus. Treatment options often include taking medications that help reduce the acids in your stomach and losing weight. If you treat the symptoms at an early stage, treatment will be easier. If you wait to treat this condition until it is really severe, you may need to undergo surgery to help ease the symptoms and risks.
If you are not sure whether you should be concerned with your frequent heartburn, it wouldn't hurt to get checked out. To learn more, contact a medical clinic to set up an appointment with a doctor today.