We have come a long way since the first drugstores of the Middle Ages. In particular, pharmaceuticals have progressed enormously in the past 50 to 60 years, helping patients with pain, curing disease and improving the overall quality of life. However, as drug commercials and advertising recommend, it is always prudent to ask a physician before beginning any kind of drug regiment. There are many reasons for this including but not limited to:
- Possible drug reactions that may occur
- Possible drug interactions with other medications that one might be taking
- A particular drug may not be the best course of action for one’s symptoms or diagnosis
As such, professional medical advice is always the best course of action.
With heartburn, the pharmaceuticals have come a long way from the chewable and liquid forms of antacids that have been in common use for decades. Today, there are more effective medications, including:
- H2 blockers / Antagonists
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
which help by reducing the amount of acid produced by the stomach.
These drugs can be very effective in addressing the burning and often painful sensation felt in the lower chest commonly referred to as heartburn or reflux. For many, this rare occurrence (i.e. once or twice per year), medications are all one needs to alleviate the symptoms and carryon with day-to-day activities. However, for 20% to 30% of the population who suffer from heartburn on a weekly basis, medications may well alleviate the symptoms of heartburn, but be only masking the underlying cause.
At the Heartburn Center of California, we work closely with our patients to determine the root cause of the discomfort. When heartburn or reflux occurs persistently, it can be due to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which might be caused by a weak Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). The LES is a region of the lower esophagus that acts as a gateway between the esophagus and the stomach. When working normally, it allows foods and liquids to enter the stomach, while preventing stomach contents from entering the esophagus. However, when the LES does not function properly, stomach contents might enter the esophagus (known as acid reflux or reflux) causing irritation and the burning sensation known as heartburn.
Medications, such as H2 blockers and PPI’s can alleviate the symptoms, but they may not prevent bile and other liquids entering the esophagus leading to other ailments, including:
If you have persistent symptoms of heartburn, please contact the Heartburn Center of California or your physician to get a thorough evaluation.
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