Today, around 10 to 15 percent of the adult population has chronic heartburn. While mild heartburn can be treated easily through lifestyle modification and over the counter antacids, chronic heartburn is far more complicated to treat.
This is because chronic heartburn may indicate that you may be suffering from other medical conditions that are far more serious, such as Barrett’s esophagus, Hiatal hernia, esophagitis, or GERD. In rare and extreme cases, chronic heartburn may also be caused by esophageal cancer or cancer of the esophagus.
First of all, heartburn occurs when partially digested food mixed with stomach acid or gastric juice escapes the stomach and comes in to contact with the esophagus. This causes pain and a burning sensation behind the breastbone in the chest, which is what we all know as heartburn.
A lot of people experiences heartburn at some point in time but if you experience this problem frequently, such as 3 times a week, this means that you have chronic heartburn. It is a clear indication that you are suffering from a more serious medical condition, such as GERD.
There are factors that can contribute to chronic heartburn. For example, it can be because of gender. Women tend to be more prone to chronic heartburn than men. Some speculate that a woman’s lower esophageal sphincter malfunctions more frequently than men, which means that gastric juices or stomach acid flows back in to the esophagus.
Women who are pregnant are at an even higher risk of developing chronic heartburn. This is mainly because the belly swells due to the presence of the baby. It puts pressure on the stomach, which pushes stomach contents, such as acid, up.
Obesity is also another contributing factor to chronic heartburn. The reason behind this is because of the fat belly, which also puts pressure on the stomach. The pressure pushes the stomach acid up to the esophagus, which causes heartburn. If the obese person does not lose weight, the heartburn problem may become more severe.
Genetic and race factors also play a role. Research has found that Hispanics and Caucasians suffer from heartburn more frequently than any other races, such as Asians and African Americans. Today, genetic research is still being conducted to discover why this is so.
It is important to keep in mind that if you have chronic heartburn, you have to get it treated. Even if it has not progressed to the stage of GERD, you have to get this condition treated before it’s too late.
Popping an over the counter antacid may help treat mild cases of heartburn but for chronic heartburn, this will most likely be useless.
You need intervention from a medical professional to get chronic heartburn treated. They may recommend drugs containing histamine 2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors, ranitidine, and even metoclopramide. In some cases, more than one of these drugs are prescribed in order to cure or treat a case of chronic heartburn.
In rare cases, chronic heartburn may be accompanied by a condition called Hiatal hernia. This will require surgery in order to treat heartburn.
You also need to keep in mind that lifestyle changes are important in order to treat heartburn permanently. This will involve losing weight, avoiding foods that cause heartburn, avoiding cigarette smoking, drinking of alcohol, and it will also involve eating smaller meals instead of 3 large meals a day.
These are the causes and treatments available for chronic heartburn. Always remember that chronic heartburn should be taken seriously. If you experience severe pain because of heartburn for 3 times a week for 2 straight weeks, it’s time that you see a doctor. This can indicate a more serious medical condition.