General chatter - Heartburn

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04-05-2007, 12:52 PM
I don't know if I am posting this in the right place but I really need help.

Once a month for the past 3-4 months I have been getting heartburn so bad that I can't sleep. It is only one night and the next day. My diet has not changed. I have never, except when pregnant, had heartburn. I do not like to "medicate". I feel that is just a bandaide. I don't have insurance right now (dh just started a new job). If anyone has any advice or anything that would be great!


04-05-2007, 01:11 PM
Untreated heartburn can lead to a condition called Barrett's Esophagus. Barret's is a premalignant condition, meaning precancerous. It is imperative that you go seek treatment ASAP.

Until you can get in to treatment. avoid the following foods: Carbonated beverages, caffeinated products, chocolate, garlic and onions, tomatoes and tomato based products, citrus fruits, whole milk dairy products.. this list is just the one I was given. There are other lists that other doctor's give out that recommend avoiding other foods. Google "GERD" to find out more information. If you smoke, quit smoking.

"Medicating" can save you from getting esophageal Cancer in the future, so please see a doctor about this as soon as you are able to.

04-05-2007, 01:11 PM
I am also in the "don't like to medicate" bandwagon. :) I believe it is best to treat the problem itself if possible...rather than take drugs to treat the symptoms of the problem. :D

Something that is really good for the digestive tract, and helps heartburn is papaya. It contains natural enzymes in it that aid digestion. If you don't like papaya itself, or don't want to eat it all of the time-you can get papaya in vitamin form at GNC.

Also-here are some other tips:

~Keep a food journal, and note the days/times that you have heartburn. See if you make any connections.
~Don't eat right before bed-it makes nighttime heartburn worse.
~Avoid carbonated drinks, and coffee.


04-05-2007, 01:35 PM
Thanks so much for your responses. I will get to a doctor as soon as we get insurance (I think 1st of next month) and have it checked out. In the meantime I will try the papya. I am not a coffee drinker or a smoker but I do love my pop. I will also stop that! I will have to find another guilty pleasure.

Thanks again!

04-05-2007, 01:38 PM
Hi there!
Please be aware that there are a number of reasons for gastric reflux, of which diet is only one. My mother has terrible reflux, and it turns out that it is NOT diet related. She has a hiatal hernia. This causes the reflux. Other physiological reflux disorders include GERD (an insufficiency of the sphinter at the base of the esophagus causing reflux), peptic ulcers, gastritis and gastropariesis.
Please get this checked out by your MD -- hopefully this is diet related and following the great advice re: dietary modifications will help. If it IS something more serious, you can treat it and prevent future problems.
Best of luck!

04-05-2007, 11:24 PM
I'm the same way as you about not wanting to medicate, but the fact is that some acid reflux is not due to diet and has to be treated with medication. In fact, I read an article recently that indicated that a lot of acid reflux cannot be controlled through diet. At one point, my doctors thought that I had acid reflux and I did A LOT of research on it, so I have a few suggestions that might help:

First off, if your heartburn is due to diet, there's a whole list of foods that are good for digestion and acid reflux (for example, mango and cilantro, in addition to papaya) and a whole other list of foods to avoid (tomatoes, onions, chocolate, caffeine, high sugar foods, high fat foods). You might want to check out the book "Tell Me What To Eat If Have Acid Reflux: Nutrition You Can Live With." Although I do have to warn you that controlling acid reflux through diet can seem depressing and overwhelming at first; it just might cause you to rethink your stance on medication. There are several other books you can try as well, just look up acid reflux on or in the card catalog of your local library.

Second, if your heartburn is occurring at night, try sleeping with your chest and head elevated. There are special pillows you can buy to help this this. In some cases, heartburn is caused by the valve separating the esophagus from the stomach opening slightly and allowing stomach acid to leak into the esophagus. Sometimes just elevating your chest and head elevated even a little is enough for gravity to keep the stomach acid where it belongs (in your stomach).

Third, light (not strenuous) exercise after you eat dinner might help as well. If you are going to bed on a full stomach or overeating in the evenings, that can definitely cause heartburn. You might try eating dinner a little earlier, being careful not to overeat, and then going for a short walk after dinner. I emphasize, walk, not run. Strenuous exercise can actually cause heartburn and can certainly irritate conditions such as a hiatal hernia. If you get hungry after dinner, you could have a small snack.

Fourth, Aphil's idea of a food journal is an excellent idea. Raw onions give me heartburn every single time I eat them. Only onions (and other members of the onion family, like garlic) and only if they are raw. Cooked onions and garlic I can eat with no problem in massive quantities. Any other other food on heart-burn inducing list (chocolate, nuts, tomatoes, pepperoni, hot peppers, etc.) I can eat with no problem. But raw onions and I'm looking at heartburn for at least a day. It started when I was in my mid-twenties. When I was a kid and even into my early twenties, I could eat raw onions and never had a problem. Now, I just don't eat raw onions and I almost never have heartburn (thank god it is raw onions that I had to give up and not something I really like, such as chocolate). If you can pinpoint a particular food that is causing a problem, maybe something you are eating only once a week, eliminating that food might easily resolve the problem.

Finally, some medications can cause digestive problems. I was on a daily dose of oral decongestants (Claritan D) for years for due to my allergies and I developed some significant digestive problems (a growing list of foods that I could not eat, from onions to eggs to nuts). Once I stopped taking the oral decongestants (I now use a nasal spray and an oral antihistamine), the digestive problems went away. Almost immediately...within a week (except for raw onions, which still give me heartburn).

If these don't work, I would give serious thought to trying an OTC dose of Prilosec or a similar medication. This is not a lifetime commitment to heartburn medication. It is possible you could take it for just a week or two and then be heartburn free for months or years before you need another dose.

04-06-2007, 01:12 PM
Great advice from the above poster, but it wouldn't hurt to make sure that you are treating the problem and not just addressing the symptom. If the cause of your heartburn is due to a treatable medical condition, just treating the symptoms will do you more harm than good in the long run. The thing that concerns me is that you have had a sudden onset of one-month's duration of severe heartburn without any noted change in diet or habit. This warrants medical investigation. If proved that this is indeed habit/diet related, the advice from the poster above is terrific. Please get this checked out!!!