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*Disclaimer: Results may vary. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only, it is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by your physician or any other medical professional. You should not use the information contained on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem, disease, or prescribing any medication. Please read product label before use. Best results are only achieved when combined with diet and exercise program. Results not typical for any or all claims."  Results may vary.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything you need to know about GERD

Many people occasionally experience gastroesophageal reflux (GER).

However, if an individual experiences persistent acid reflux that occurs more than twice a week, they may be diagnosed with GERD. In other words, GERD is the long-term, regular occurrence of GER.

The American College of Gastroenterology says that at least 15 million Americans, or 20 percent of the American population, experience heartburn every day.

Causes

Occasional acid reflux is quite common, often occurring as a result of overeating, lying down after eating, or eating particular foods.

However, recurrent acid reflux, diagnosed as GERD, typically has other causes and risk factors and can have more serious complications.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs in people of all ages, and sometimes for unknown reasons.

In short, GERD occurs when the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus becomes weak, or opens when it should not.

GERD occurs more commonly in people who are:

overweight or obese because of increased pressure on the abdomen

pregnant, due to the same increased pressure

taking certain medications, including some asthma medications, calcium channel blockers, antihistamines, sedatives, and antidepressants

smoking, and being exposed to second-hand smoke

Hiatal hernia is a condition where an opening in the diaphragm lets the top of the stomach move up into the chest. This lowers the pressure in the esophageal sphincter and raises the risk of GERD.

Symptoms

Woman with GERD being examined

The main symptom of GERD is heartburn.

The main symptom of GERD is heartburn.

Heartburn is discomfort felt behind the breastbone as a burning sensation. It tends to get worse if the person lies down or bends over, and also after eating food.

However, not all people with GERD experience heartburn, and there are other possible symptoms:

nausea or vomiting

bad breath

respiratory problems

difficulty or pain when swallowing

decay

Complications

GERD can worsen and turn into other conditions if left untreated.

These include:

Esophagitis: This is an inflammation of the esophagus.

Esophageal stricture: In this condition, the esophagus becomes narrow, making it difficult to swallow.

Barrett's esophagus: The cells lining the esophagus can change into cells similar to the lining of the intestine. This can develop into cancer.

Respiratory problems: It is possible to breathe stomach acid into the lungs, which can cause a range of problems including chest congestion, hoarseness, asthma, laryngitis, and pneumonia.

Diagnosis

Anyone who is experiencing frequent acid reflux symptoms should talk to their doctor, who may refer them to a specialist in gut medicine known as a gastroenterologist for further investigation.

There are several possible tests to diagnose GERD, including:

Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring: This measures the amount of acid in the esophagus while the body is in different states, such as while eating or sleeping.

Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscope: This is a tube with a camera attached, which is used to inspect the esophagus. A small sample of tissue may also be taken at the same time in a biopsy.

Upper GI series: This is a type of X-ray that shows up certain physical abnormalities that might cause GERD.

Esophageal manometry: This measures muscle contractions in the esophagus during swallowing. It can measure the strength of the sphincter.

Bravo wireless esophageal pH monitoring: In this test, a small temporary capsule is attached to the esophagus. This measures the acidity continuously for around 48 hours.

Treatment

GERD will often be treated with medications before attempting other lines of treatment.

Proton pump inhibitors are one of the main pharmaceutical treatment options for people with GERD. They decrease the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

Other options include:

H2 blockers: These are another option to help decrease acid production.

Antacids: These counteract the acid in the stomach with alkaline chemicals. Side effects can include diarrhea and constipation. Antacids are available to purchase online.

Prokinetics: These help the stomach empty faster. Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, and anxiety.

 Â Â Â Erythromycin: Ths is a type of antibiotic that also helps empty the stomach.

Surgical options

If lifestyle changes do not significantly improve the symptoms of GERD, or medications do not have the desired effect, a gastroenterologist may recommend surgery.

Surgical treatments include:

Fundoplication: The surgeon sews the top of the stomach around the esophagus. This adds pressure to the lower end of the esophagus and is generally successful at reducing reflux.

Endoscopic procedures: This is a range of procedures include endoscopic sewing, which uses stitches to tighten the sphincter muscle, and radiofrequency, which uses heat to produce small burns that help tighten the sphincter muscle.

Prevention

Other lifestyle and behavior changes can help relieve GERD include:

Eat moderate amounts of food and avoid overeating.

Stop eating 2 to 3 hours before sleeping.

Quit or avoid smoking.

If a person is overweight, losing weight can help prevent symptoms.

Do not wear clothing that is tight around the abdomen.

Sleep at a slight angle with the head slightly elevated.

Diet

Certain foods may trigger GERD symptoms in some people.

These include:

greasy foods

spicy foods

chocolate

peppermint

coffee

foods containing tomato products

alcoholic drinks

If you are avoiding these types of food and still experience regular heartburn, it is important to visit a doctor as there may be other underlying issues causing the symptoms.

We picked linked items based on the quality of products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline UK and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link(s) above.

Related coverage

What's the connection between acid reflux and coughing? How might acid reflux lead to coughing and how is this diagnosed? Learn about treatments, prevention methods, and other causes of chronic coughing. Read now

What's to know about peptic ulcers? What are the symptoms of peptic ulcers? Find out here along with information on the most common causes and effective treatments for peptic ulcers. Read now

What is acid reflux? More than 60 million Americans are said to have acid reflux regularly, and it causes numerous hospital admissions. Read about risk factors, including diet and lifestyle, and the many home remedies people can try. In the worst cases, acid reflux may lead to GERD or gastroesophogeal reflux disease or worse conditions. Read now

What to eat and avoid if you have GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition in which the stomach's contents often come back up into the food pipe. Dietary changes can help to ease symptoms. For example, high-fat and salty foods can make GERD worse, while eggs and some fruits can improve it. Learn which foods are beneficial here. Read now

Heartburn is a common problem created by acid reflux, a condition where some of the stomach contents are forced back up into the esophagus. It creates a burning pain in the lower chest.

Persistent acid reflux that happens more than twice a week is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is felt when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, the pipe that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Heartburn is a symptom of GERD.

According to estimates from the American College of Gastroenterology, at least 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day. Learn more about stomach fluid, the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach, and how reflux can be harmful.

Fast facts on heartburn:

Causes include diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.

The primary symptom is a burning sensation in the throat or chest from stomach acid.

In many cases, heartburn has little bearing on overall health.

There are many treatments, including PPI medications (proton-pump inhibitors).

Causes

Woman with fire coming out of her mouth

There are many causes of heartburn, including obesity and smoking.

Occasional heartburn is normal and is rarely a significant cause for concern.

Recurrent acid reflux results in the diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or GORD) and can have serious consequences for health and indicate other underlying health issues.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is seen in people of all ages, and the cause is often attributable to a lifestyle factors, such as obesity, smoking, and low levels of exercise.

woman experiencing burning in the middle of the chest

Symptoms include a burning sensation in the middle of the chest.

The symptoms of heartburn are fairly obvious to most sufferers. The most common is a feeling of warmth or heat, sometimes burning, in the chest and throat, caused by the stomach acid.

Not all of these have been supported by research. If they are, they could mean that fewer people need to use medication.

During pregnancy

Heartburn and indigestion are common in pregnancy, due to hormonal changes and the baby pressing against the stomach.

There are diet and lifestyle changes that can often help to relieve the symptoms.

Before eating, it may help to eat some yogurt or drink some milk, possibly with a spoonful of honey in it.

Treatment

Changes to lifestyle or behavior can prevent or improve heartburn symptoms. Read more about prevention through lifestyle. Our acid reflux page has more in-depth information on all the topics introduced here.

Related coverage

What is silent reflux and what can I do about it? Silent reflux describes stomach acid rising into the esophagus and vocal chords. It may cause irritation or a burning sensation behind the breastbone or in the middle of the trunk. Many people with the condition also experience hoarseness and coughing. Here, learn about causes, symptoms, and remedies for silent reflux. Read now

What is acid reflux? More than 60 million Americans are said to have acid reflux regularly, and it causes numerous hospital admissions. Read about risk factors, including diet and lifestyle, and the many home remedies people can try. In the worst cases, acid reflux may lead to GERD or gastroesophogeal reflux disease or worse conditions. Read now

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What's the connection between acid reflux and coughing? How might acid reflux lead to coughing and how is this diagnosed? Learn about treatments, prevention methods, and other causes of chronic coughing. Read now

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Health tips, wellness advice and more.

If GERD is severe and unresponsive to medical treatment, a surgical intervention known as fundoplication may be needed.

Lifestyle

Overweight man smoking

Losing weight and stopping smoking will remove two lifestyle risk factors associated with acid reflux.

Lifestyle measures that may help include:

We picked linked items based on the quality of products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline UK and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link(s) above.

Related coverage

What to drink if you have acid reflux Acid reflux is an uncomfortable condition in which stomach acid flows back into the food pipe. This article investigates which drinks will make it worse, and what you should drink to minimize symptoms. This article also looks at some other ways to prevent acid reflux, including some lifestyle changes and medications. Read now

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Ten causes of epigastric pain Epigastric pain is felt in the upper abdomen, below the ribcage but above the intestines. Learn about the possible causes, including GERD and indigestion. Read now

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*Disclaimer: Results may vary. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal/cure or prevent any disease. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only, it is not meant to substitute medical advice provided by your physician or any other medical professional. You should not use the information contained on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem, disease, or prescribing any medication. Best results are only achieved when combined with diet and exercise program and nutrition program. Results are not typical for any or all claims."


I had a serious case of acid reflux I was dealing with.  I'd definitely would refer Dr. Kwang to my friends. I feel more grounded. Because of your state of health you don't feel so bright. After years and years having doctors in the hospital say there is no solution; sometimes I didn't even want to get up in the morning. You can't do anything... you can't do anything; you lose your wealth. I changed my diet. I am a vegetarian but now I can eat a little beef or pastrami. I can et more. My appetite has increased. I am snacking and working out. I'm straight. I know what foods to stay away from.  Now I'm on the go and traveling. When I come across things that work... you can tell people but until they have an issue... your health is your wealth. Enjoy.

 

 

Heartburn: Why it happens and what to do

Last updated Thu 7 December 2017

By Markus MacGill

Reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD

 

   Causes Symptoms Remedies During pregnancy Treatment Prevention

 

Heartburn is a common problem created by acid reflux, a condition where some of the stomach contents are forced back up into the esophagus. It creates a burning pain in the lower chest.

 

Persistent acid reflux that happens more than twice a week is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Heartburn is felt when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, the pipe that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Heartburn is a symptom of GERD.

 

According to estimates from the American College of Gastroenterology, at least 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day. Learn more about stomach fluid, the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach, and how reflux can be harmful.

Fast facts on heartburn:

 

   Causes include diet, obesity, and lack of exercise.

   The primary symptom is a burning sensation in the throat or chest from stomach acid.

   In many cases, heartburn has little bearing on overall health.

   There are many treatments, including PPI medications (proton-pump inhibitors).

 

Causes

Woman with fire coming out of her mouth

There are many causes of heartburn, including obesity and smoking.

 

Occasional heartburn is normal and is rarely a significant cause for concern.

 

Recurrent acid reflux results in the diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or GORD) and can have serious consequences for health and indicate other underlying health issues.

 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is seen in people of all ages, and the cause is often attributable to a lifestyle factors, such as obesity, smoking, and low levels of exercise.

 

See here for more detail about the causes of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Symptoms

woman experiencing burning in the middle of the chest

Symptoms include a burning sensation in the middle of the chest.

 

The symptoms of heartburn are fairly obvious to most sufferers. The most common is a feeling of warmth or heat, sometimes burning, in the chest and throat, caused by the stomach acid.

 

Other symptoms include:

 

   burning sensation in the middle of the chest.

   rising pain, possibly reaching the jaw.

   burning and indigestion-like pain.

   foul, acrid taste in the mouth.

 

What is acid reflux?

What is acid reflux?

Sometimes heartburn is a symptom of GERD, learn more about the causes and symptoms of this associated condition

Read now

 

If a person experiences symptoms of acid reflux frequently, they should consult their doctor, who may refer them to a gastroenterologist - a specialist in gut medicine - for further investigation. Learn more about GERD.

Remedies

 

The main treatment for repeated heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease is to reduce the production of stomach acid.

 

Lifestyle remedies can help prevent or reduce heartburn.

 

Suggestions collected from physicians by researchers include:

 

   following a healthful diet, with a limited fat intake

   avoid eating before lying down and sit up straight while eating

   avoiding heavy lifting and straining

   monitoring and avoiding triggers, such as alcohol, caffeine, spicy food, full cream milk, gassy foods, such as soft drinks, and acidic food, such as tomato, lemon, or orange juices

   reducing weight, if appropriate

   avoiding smoking

   keeping fit through exercise

   eating small meals, more often

   having a review of existing medications

 

Not all of these have been supported by research. If they are, they could mean that fewer people need to use medication.

During pregnancy

 

Heartburn and indigestion are common in pregnancy, due to hormonal changes and the baby pressing against the stomach.

 

There are diet and lifestyle changes that can often help to relieve the symptoms.

 

The American Pregnancy Association suggests:

 

   eating five to six small meals throughout the day

   not lying down within an hour of eating

   avoiding fatty and spicy foods

 

Before eating, it may help to eat some yogurt or drink some milk, possibly with a spoonful of honey in it.

Treatment

 

Apart from lifestyle alterations, heartburn can be reduced by using drugs such as:

 

   antacids

   proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)

   histamine-2 blockers

 

However, these can have adverse effects.

Prevention

 

Changes to lifestyle or behavior can prevent or improve heartburn symptoms. Read more about prevention through lifestyle. Our acid reflux page has more in-depth information on all the topics introduced here.

Heartburn definition and facts

 

   Heartburn is a feeling of burning in your chest, and is a symptom of acid reflux or GERD.

   Heartburn is most common after meals, but can also awaken people while they are sleeping.

   People also may experience heartburn after eating specific foods or drinking certain beverages.

   Symptoms of acid reflux that may accompany heartburn include:

       difficulty swallowing,

       chronic cough,

       stomach pain or burning in the upper abdomen,

       persistent sore throat,

       regurgitation of foods or liquids with a taste of acid in the throat, and

       persistent hoarseness or laryngitis.

   Diet and other lifestyle changes can alleviate heartburn for many people.

   Heartburn is more common during pregnancy.

 

What is heartburn?

 

Heartburn is a sensation of burning in the chest caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus (food pipe). The burning is usually in the central part of the chest, just behind the sternum (breast bone). The burning can worsen or can be brought on by lying flat or on the right side. Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn.

 

Many people experience heartburn and there are a large number of over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies available to treat heartburn.

 

In most cases you will not need to see a health-care professional, except if the symptoms are frequent (several times a week), severe or increasing in severity.

 

If heartburn is severe or the pain is accompanied with additional symptoms such as shortness of breath, radiation into your arms or neck, you will need to see a doctor to distinguish these symptoms from more serious medical conditions such as a heart attack.

 

GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) can be considered a chronic and more serious form of reflux with heartburn as the major symptom; however, there may be other symptoms or no symptoms at all.

 

If your heartburn symptoms occur more than twice a week you should see your health-care professional to make sure no serious problems are present.

 

What does acid reflux look like?

 

Acid reflux or GERD

 

Picture of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn)

Picture of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, heartburn)

Quick GuideHeartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Heartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Heartburn Symptoms and Signs

 

Heartburn is a common cause of a burning sensation in the chest and chest pain. Heartburn can be associated with symptoms such as:

 

   a sour taste in the mouth,

   dry cough,

   hoarseness,

   sore throat, and

   difficulty swallowing.

 

Learn more about hearburn symptoms and signs »

 

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

 

   Readers Comments 8

   Share Your Story

 

The usual symptom of heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest. It can be accompanied by:

 

   a sour taste at the back of the throat,

   regurgitation of food, or

   a feeling of food being stuck in the throat.

 

A person needs to be evaluated by a health-care professional for heart disease as soon as possible if he or she has heartburn symptoms that are accompanied with:

 

   shortness of breath,

   radiation to the arms or neck,

   dizziness or cold sweat.

 

What foods and drinks cause heartburn (list)?

 

   Readers Comments 2

   Share Your Story

 

   Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.

   Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.

   Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods (oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes) as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.

   Additional foods that make heartburn worse.

 

Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events. Print this and take this with you to your next doctor's appointment to discuss possible causes of heartburn you may be experiencing.

Heartburn Journal - Week of________________Day Foods Eaten Heartburn Trigger

(Yes or No) Activities

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 

Heartburn:Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Heartburn Slideshow: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Digestive Disease Myths:Common Misconceptions

 

Digestive Disease Myths

 

Take the GERD Quiz

 

Heartburn during pregnancy

 

   Read Doctor's View

   Share Your Story

 

Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened (LES) resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.

 

Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.

 

Unfortunately there are no clear studies on the safety of heartburn medications on the growing fetus, and researchers are not going to test these drugs on pregnant women to evaluate how safe they are for the developing fetus, so the only option is to test these drugs on pregnant animals. There is no evidence that most of the acid neutralizing or suppressing drugs are harmful to the fetus although nonabsorbable medications are preferred.

 

Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant (see previous section on home remedies and lifestyle changes).

 

What causes heartburn?

 

   Readers Comments 3

   Share Your Story

 

The esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to the stomach) has a tight band of muscles at the lower end (lower esophageal sphincter [LES]) that closes after the food enters the stomach and prevents the stomach contents to reenter the esophagus. If this sphincter weakens or relaxes at the wrong time, stomach acid can back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and its complications.

woman thinking

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How is heartburn diagnosed?

 

Often all that a health-care professional requires is a thorough history and physical to make the preliminary diagnosis of heartburn. To evaluate if there is any damage and how severe your heartburn is, the doctor my suggest some of the following tests:

 

   Endoscopy: A flexible scope is passed down the esophagus to examine the esophagus as well as the stomach. Biopsies can be taken if indicated. This lets the doctor see if there is any obvious damage, and also eliminate other reasons for the patient's symptoms (foreign body, malignancy).

   Upper GI series (upper GI series): After drinking a liquid that coats the inside of the digestive tract, X-rays are taken. These X-rays will show the outline of the digestive system.

   Ambulatory pH testing: This test measures the acidity in the esophagus via a small tube that goes through the nose into the stomach.

 

What are treatments, relief, and home remedies for heartburn?

 

   Readers Comments 1

   Share Your Story

 

Heartburn can be treated with lifestyle changes and medications (over-the-counter and prescription). In rare cases, surgical procedures are available to help with severe and chronic heartburn (GERD).

 

Lifestyle changes

 

There are several ways to treat and avoid heartburn with lifestyle changes.

 

   Weight loss/keeping ideal weight: Excess weight increases the pressure on the stomach, increasing the chance of acid reflux into the esophagus.

   Quit smoking: Smoking interferes with the proper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter.

   Food control: Avoid foods that trigger heartburn (see previously). Consider keeping a food journal to alert you to foods that make your heartburn worse. Decrease the amount of food you eat.

   Elevate the head of the bed: If you are experiencing heartburn at night, elevating the head of the bed will decrease reflux.

 

Heartburn:Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Heartburn Slideshow: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Digestive Disease Myths:Common Misconceptions

 

Digestive Disease Myths

 

Take the GERD Quiz

 

OTC and prescription medications for heartburn

 

There are many over-the-counter and prescription medications available. These fall into three major categories:

 

   Medications that neutralize stomach acid (antacids): Antacids (Mylanta, Maalox, Rolaids, Tums) provide quick relieve because they decrease the acid. These medications don't heal existing damage to your esophagus nor prevent future episodes of heartburn.

   Medications that reduce the production of acid: These medications are named after the receptor they block (H-2 blockers) and are available as over-the-counter as well as prescription medications. Their symptom relief tends to last longer than antacids, but it also takes longer for them to start working. They are available as several brands and formulations (ranitidine [Zantac], nizatidine [Axid], cimetidine [Tagamet], famotidine [Pepcid]). Depending on the strength they are available over-the-counter and by prescription.

   Medications that block acid production: Proton pump inhibitors (for example, omeprazole [Prilosec], lansoprazole [Prevacid]) block the production of acid. This then allows healing of the damaged esophagus.

 

Note: You should make your health-care professional aware if you take these medications on a chronic basis as there can be interactions with other medications and frequent use will alert your doctor to the severity of symptoms.

Quick GuideHeartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Heartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Surgical procedures to treat heartburn

 

   Share Your Story

 

Laparoscopic surgical procedures are available to treat heartburn. This option is usually only chosen if lifestyle changes and medications have not helped. There also are endoscopic treatments for treating heartburn that don’t require surgery, but endoscopic procedures are much less used that surgery.

 

How can heartburn be prevented?

 

The first step, as it is so often, is basic lifestyle changes. Stop smoking, lose weight, and watch what you eat (sounds familiar?).

 

If these interventions do not fully alleviate heartburn symptoms, then the addition of medications that decrease heartburn or prevent it all together, under the guidance of your health-care professional, should allow you to control heartburn.

Heartburn:Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Heartburn Slideshow: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

Digestive Disease Myths:Common Misconceptions

 

Digestive Disease Myths

 

Take the GERD Quiz

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Medically Reviewed on 2/1/2018

References

Related Article

GERD Quiz: Test Your Digestive Diseases IQ

 

Could you have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)? What are some home remedies for heartburn? What causes heartburn? What are the symptoms of GERD? Take the quiz to find out.

 

Read more: GERD Quiz: Test Your Digestive Diseases IQ

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   Heartburn - During Pregnancy

 

   What home remedies or lifestyle changes did you make to ease heartburn symptoms during your pregnancy?

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   Heartburn - Triggers

 

   What foods or activities trigger heartburn for you?

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Complete List

Top Heartburn (Reflux) Related Articles

 

   Why Am I Bloated?

   Bloating is a sign and symptom of gas in the stomach or GI tract. Certain foods or health problems like constipation may cause it. Bacteria and certain foods like lactose can cause it. Learn the symptoms and causes of bloating to feel more healthy.

   Endoscopy

   Endoscopy is a broad term used to described examining the inside of the body using an lighted, flexible instrument called an endoscope. Endoscopy procedure is performed on a patient to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum; and look for causes of symptoms such as:

       abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, or intestinal bleeding.

   Esophagus Picture

   The esophagus is a muscular tube connecting the throat (pharynx) with the stomach. See a picture of the Esophagus and learn more about the health topic.

   Fundoplication

   Fundoplication is a surgical procedure for treating GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). The procedure is to help GERD symptoms including heartburn. Eighty percent of patients with GERD also have a hiatal hernia, and during the fundoplication procedure, the hernial sac may also be surgically fixed. The procedure can be done with laparotomy, thoracotomy, or laparoscopy.

   Take the GERD Quiz

   Who is at risk for developing GERD? Are you? Take this quiz to learn what GERD is, if you're at risk, and what you can do about it.

   Heartburn and Pregnancy

 

   Heartburn during pregnancy is quite common. During pregnancy the lower esophageal sphincter muscle becomes weakened , which likely occurs due to the effect of the high levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy. Fortunately, this resolves after pregnancy. Management of heartburn during pregnancy are generally involves lifestyle changes and avoiding foods that promote heartburn, for example:

       Don't smoke Avoid tight clothing Eat small, frequent meals Chew gum Sip liquids

 

   The effect of heartburn medications on the fetus is unknown, so it is best to check with your OB/GYN if you feel you need medication to treat heartburn.

   Heartburn Foods Slides

   Learn the symptoms of heartburn and which foods cause heartburn or GERD. Discover home remedies and which foods may provide treatment for heartburn relief.

   Heartburn Causes, Symptoms and Remedies

   Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux that causes chest pain when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Heartburn symptoms may mimic chest pain that occurs during a heart attack. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may produce other symptoms.

   Helicobacter Pylori

   Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) of the inner lining of the stomach, and also is the most common cause of ulcers worldwide. About 50% of people in the world carries or is infected with H. pylori. Common symptoms of H. pylori infection are occasional abdominal discomfort, bloating, belching or burping, and nausea and vomiting. H. pylori infection is difficult to erdicate, and treatment is with two or more antibiotics.

   Hiatal Hernia Overview

 

   Hiatal hernia is a condition in which a thin membrane of tissue connects the esophagus with the diaphragm becomes week, and a portion of the stomach slides up into the esophagus. Causes include obesity, pregnancy, straining during a bowel movement, aging, and ascites. There are generally no symptoms for hiatal herniaa>, and it is discovered during another medical procedure to test for GERD, or other swallowing problems.

   Intestinal Gas (Belching, Bloating, Flatulence)

 

   Anal itching is the irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, known as the anus, accompanied by the desire to scratch. Causes include everything from irritating foods we eat, to certain diseases, and infections. Treatment options include medicine including, local anesthetics, for example, lidocaine (Xylocaine), pramoxine (Fleet Pain-Relief), and benzocaine (Lanacane Maximum Strength), vasoconstrictors, for example, phenylephrine 0.25% (Medicone Suppository, Preparation H, Rectocaine), protectants, for example, glycerin, kaolin, lanolin, mineral oil (Balneol), astringents, for example, witch hazel and calamine, antiseptics, for example, boric acid and phenol, aeratolytics, for example, resorcinol, analgesics, for example, camphor and juniper tar, and

 

   Gas (intestinal gas) means different things to different people. Everyone has gas and eliminates it by belching, burping, or farting (flatulence). Bloating or abdominal distension is a subjective feeling that the stomach is larger or fuller than normal. Belching or burping occurs when gas is expelled from the stomach out through the mouth. Flatulence or farting occurs when intestinal gas is passed from the anus.

 

   Causes of belching or burping include drinking too rapidly, anxiety, carbonated drinks, habit, and swallowing air.

 

   Causes of bloating or distension include tumors, ascites, fluid within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and obesity.

 

   Causes of gas or flatulence are diseases such as sugary foods and drinks, fruits and vegetables, starches (wheat, oats, corn, and potatoes), lactose intolerance, untreated celiac disease, and SIBO.

 

   Treatment for excessive intestinal gas depends on the cause. If anal itching persists, a doctor examination may be needed to identify an underlying cause.

   Laryngitis

 

   Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (vocal cords). The most common cause of acute laryngitis is infection, which inflames the vocal cords. Symptoms may vary from degree of laryngitis and age of the person (laryngitis in infants and children is more commonly caused by croup). Common symptoms include

       a "barky" cough, a hoarse cough, fever, cold, runny nose, dry cough, and loss of voice.

 

   Chronic laryngitis generally lasts more than three weeks. Causes other than infection include smoking, excess coughing, GERD, and more. Treatment depends on the cause of laryngitis.

   Pregnancy

 

   Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester).  The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include

 

   breast swelling and tenderness,

       nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating.

 

   Second trimester symptoms include

        backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks.

 

   Third trimester symptoms are

       additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping.

 

   Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.

   Pregnancy Symptoms Am I Pregnant

 

   Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include

       missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue,  nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn.

 

   Symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and more.

   Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)

 

   Sore throat usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.

   Gastric (Stomach) Cancer

   What are the common signs and symptoms of stomach cancer? Learn about gastric cancer diagnosis, treatment, and their risks, how Heliobacter pylori affects the stomach, what the risk factors are, and how clinical trials have helped determine cancer risks. Guard your gastrointestinal health with reliable medical information.

 

Heartburn Definition

 

Heartburn is a disease that occurs when gastric contents flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus. It is also termed reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or pyrosis. Heartburn may or may not be associated with mucosal injury; that disease, termed esophagitis, is addressed in a separate article. Surveys suggest that as many as 25% to 40% of adults have experience heartburn once a month, while about 7% to 10% have daily heartburn. Heartburn occurs more often in males and in people over the age of 40 years.

 

Heartburn Causes

 

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The cause of heartburn is excessive flow of gastric contents back into the esophagus. Normally, there is an occasional backflow into the esophagus with no symptoms. The acidic gastric contents, when present in large amounts, irritate the esophagus (usually the lower part) and cause the symptoms of heartburn.

 

Heartburn Symptoms

 

Symptoms of heartburn usually consist of a sensation of burning or discomfort after eating, located in the middle of the lower chest underneath the sternum (breastbone). The discomfort may increase when bending over or lying flat on the back. Some people experience dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) or feeling like food is stuck in the lower esophagus while others may have a cough or respiratory discomfort, although these symptoms occur less frequently.

Heartburn:Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Heartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid Slideshow Pictures

Digestive Disease Myths:Common Misconceptions

 

Digestive Disease Myths Slideshow Pictures

eMedicineHealth

 

Take the GERD Quiz

 

When to Call the Doctor

 

In most people, heartburn lasts for a short period of time and stops quickly, especially with the use of certain medications. People should seek medical care if heartburn is increasing in frequency, occurring daily, not responsive to over-the-counter (OTC) medications, or if additional symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing, and frequent nausea and vomiting occur. Other symptoms, such as shortness of breath and/or chest pain, can be mistaken for heartburn; these symptoms should be evaluated emergently.

 

Heartburn Diagnosis

 

Generally, most people with heartburn are presumptively diagnosed on the basis of the patient's clinical history and the person's response to OTC medications. However, more severe symptoms may be due to an underlying cause. The doctor then will schedule additional tests that may include an upper GI endoscopy, pH probe study (acid measurement), esophageal manometry (pressure test), upper GI series or other tests, depending on the suspected underlying cause.

 

Heartburn Treatment

 

Treatment of heartburn is often approached by taking small incremental steps, usually starting with home remedies and diet modifications, then to OTC medications. If these measures do not effectively control the heartburn symptoms, the next steps consist of using prescribed medications and other treatment options.

GERD Quiz - How Much Do You Know?

 

Question number 1: GERD is the back up of stomach acid into the esophagus.

 

True or False?

Click here to see if you were right, and take the rest of the quiz! »

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Heartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Foods to Avoid with Heartburn

 

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Certain foods and drinks should be avoided because they may lead to or worsen heartburn symptoms. Some common examples are as follows:

 

   Alcohol

   Coffee

   Citrus juice

   Soft drinks that are have an acid pH

   Peppermint

   Chocolate

   Tomato products

   Chili peppers

 

This is not a complete list of all the offending agents; people can learn from experience what foods give them heartburn symptoms and then avoid those foods.

Heartburn:Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid

 

Heartburn: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid Slideshow Pictures

Digestive Disease Myths:Common Misconceptions

 

Digestive Disease Myths Slideshow Pictures

eMedicineHealth

 

Take the GERD Quiz

 

Heartburn Home Remedies and Relief

 

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In addition to avoiding foods listed above, there are several home remedies that can help people avoid and reduce the symptoms of heartburn. These include eating small meals, avoiding bending over (especially soon after eating), waiting about three hours after a meal before lying down, elevate the head of your bed about eight inches, and avoid lying on the right side. If you are overweight, loose the extra weight. Reduce the amount of stress by relaxation techniques.

 

Heartburn OTC and Prescription Medications

 

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Common OTC antacids such as Rolaids, Tums or Maalox are effective for some individuals; others may need H2 receptor antagonists such as:

 

   ranitidine (Taladine, Zantac, Zantac 150, Zantac 300, Zantac 75, Zantac EFFERdose),

   cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagament HB),

   famotidine (Heartburn Relief, Leader Acid Reducer, Pepcid, Pepcid AC, Pepcid AC Maximum Strength), or

   nizatidine (Axid, Axid AR, Axid Pulvules).

 

Other people may do well with proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as:

 

   omeprazole (Prilosec, Prilosec OTC),

   lansoprazole (Prevacid, Prevacid OTC, Prevacid SoluTab),

   rabeprazole (Aciphex),

   esomeprazole (Nexium), or

   pantoprazole (Protonix).

 

Heartburn Surgery

 

   Share Your Story

 

Surgery for heartburn is rare; however if heartburn is uncontrollable or complications like Barrett's esophagus develop, surgery may be considered by your doctors. The surgery may reduce the hiatal hernia, may narrow the esophageal hiatus, involve implantation of a device to augment the sphincter above the stomach or other specialized procedures.

 

Heartburn during Pregnancy

 

   Share Your Story

 

About one-half of all pregnant women develop heartburn, especially during their second and third trimester. Pregnant women should avoid the foods listed above and utilize the home remedies described above except for the OTC medications. They should discuss with their doctor what OTC's, if any, they should take. Although OTC's are generally safe for the fetus and mother, their use should be determined by the person's OB/GYN.

 

Heartburn Prognosis

 

The prognoses for the large majority of people with heartburn is very good. Many people require no treatment or only treatment with OTC's. A small number of people will develop complications and their prognosis will vary from good to a more guarded.

 

Heartburn Prevention

 

As stated above, heartburn can be reduced or prevented by a stepwise treatment program that includes lifestyle changes, avoiding certain foods, OTC medications, prescription medications, and infrequently, surgical intervention.

11 Proven Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Bloating

 

Bloating is the condition of your belly feeling swollen after eating (1).

 

It is usually caused by excess gas production, and/or disturbances in the movement of the muscles of the digestive system (2).

 

This can cause increased pressure and discomfort, and can sometimes make the stomach look bigger (3).

 

The effect can be quite extreme in certain cases, and some have even used the term "food baby."

 

"Bloating" is not the same as water retention, but the two terms are often used interchangeably.

 

Read this article for ways to reduce water retention.

 

Put simply, bloating involves excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gas in your digestive system.

 

However, in some people, bloating is caused mostly by increased sensitivity. It just feels as if there is increased pressure in the abdomen, even though there isn't (4, 5).

 

About 16-30% of people report that they regularly experience bloating, so this is very common (2, 6, 7).

 

Bloating can often cause pain, discomfort and a "stuffed" feeling, but it can also make you look heavier and give the perception of large amounts of belly fat.

 

Although bloating is sometimes caused by serious medical conditions, it is most often caused by the diet and some foods or ingredients you are intolerant to.

 

Here are 11 proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating.

  1. Don't Eat Too Much at a Time

 

Being stuffed can feel like being bloated, but the problem is that you simply ate too much.

 

If you're eating big meals and tend to feel uncomfortable afterwards, then try smaller portions.

 

Add another daily meal if necessary.

 

A subset of people who experience bloating don't really have an enlarged stomach or increased pressure in the abdomen. The issue is mostly sensory (8, 9).

 

A person with a tendency to be bloated will experience discomfort from a smaller amount of food than a person who rarely feels bloated.

 

For this reason, simply eating smaller meals can be incredibly useful.

 

Chewing your food better can have a two-fold effect. It reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food (a cause of bloating), and it also makes you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions (10).

 

   Bottom Line:

   People who experience bloating often have increased sensitivity to food in the stomach. Therefore, eating smaller meals can be very useful.

 

  1. Rule Out Food Allergies and Intolerances to Common Foods

 

Food allergies and intolerances are relatively common.

 

When you eat foods that you are intolerant to, it can cause excess gas production, bloating and other symptoms.

 

Here are some common foods and ingredients to consider:

 

   Lactose: Lactose intolerance is associated with many digestive symptoms, including bloating. Lactose is the main carbohydrate in milk (11).

   Fructose: Fructose intolerance can lead to bloating (12).

   Eggs: Gas and bloating are common symptoms of egg allergy.

   Wheat and Gluten: Many people are allergic to wheat, or intolerant to gluten (a protein in wheat, spelt, barley and some other grains). This can lead to various adverse effects on digestion, including bloating (13, 14).

 

You can try avoiding some of these to see if it helps. But if you strongly suspect that you have a food allergy or intolerance, see a doctor.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Food allergies and intolerances are common causes of bloating. Common offenders include lactose, fructose, wheat, gluten and eggs.

 

  1. Avoid Swallowing Air and Gases

 

There are two sources of gas in the digestive system.

 

One is gas produced by the bacteria in the gut (which we'll get to in a bit).

 

The other is air or gas that is swallowed when you eat or drink. The biggest offender here is carbonated beverages (soda, or fizzy drinks).

 

They contain bubbles with carbon dioxide, a gas that can be released from the liquid after it reaches your stomach.

 

Chewing gum, drinking through a straw, and eating while talking or while in a hurry, can also lead to increased amounts of swallowed air.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Swallowed air can contribute to bloating. A major cause is carbonated beverages, which contain gases that are dissolved in the liquid.

 

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  1. Don't Eat Foods That Give You Gas

 

Some high fiber foods can make people produce large amounts of gas.

 

Major players include legumes like beans and lentils, as well as some whole grains.

 

Try keeping a food diary to figure out if certain foods tend to make you more gassy and/or bloated than others.

 

Fatty foods can also slow down digestion and emptying of the stomach. This can have benefits for satiety (and possibly help with weight loss), but can be a problem for people with a tendency to bloat.

 

Try eating less of beans and fatty foods to see if it helps.

 

   Bottom Line:

   If certain foods make you feel bloated or give you gas, try cutting back or avoiding them. Eating fatty foods can also slow digestion and may contribute to bloating in some individuals.

 

  1. Try a Low FODMAP Diet

 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common digestive disorder in the world.

 

It has no known cause, but is believed to affect about 14% of people, most of which are undiagnosed (15).

 

Common symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, discomfort, diarrhea and/or constipation.

 

The majority of IBS patients experience bloating, and about 60% of them report bloating as their worst symptom, scoring even higher than abdominal pain (1, 16).

 

Numerous studies have shown that indigestible carbohydrates called FODMAPS can drastically exacerbate symptoms in IBS patients (17, 18).

 

FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligo, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.

 

A low-FODMAP diet has been shown to lead to major reductions in symptoms such as bloating, at least in IBS patients (19, 20, 21).

 

If you have problems with bloating, with or without other digestive symptoms, then a low-FODMAP diet may be a good way to fix it.

 

Here are some common high-FODMAP foods:

 

   Wheat.

   Onions.

   Garlic.

   Broccoli.

   Cabbage.

   Cauliflower.

   Artichokes.

   Beans.

   Apples.

   Pears.

   Watermelon.

   Here you can find a detailed list of high-FODMAP foods.

 

This diet can be difficult to follow if you're used to eating many of these foods, but may be worth trying out if you have bloating or other digestive problems.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Carbohydrates called FODMAPs can drive bloating and other digestive symptoms, especially in people with irritable bowel syndrome.

 

  1. Be Careful With Sugar Alcohols

 

Sugar alcohols are commonly found in sugar-free foods and chewing gums.

 

These sweeteners are generally considered to be safe alternatives to sugar.

 

However, they may cause digestive problems, because they tend to reach the bacteria in the large intestine, which digest them and produce gas (22).

 

Sugar alcohols are actually FODMAPs as well, so they are excluded on a low-FODMAP diet.

 

Try avoiding sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol. The sugar alcohol erythritol may be better tolerated than the others, but it can also cause digestive issues in large doses.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Sugar alcohols can cause digestive issues such as bloating, especially when consumed in large doses. Try avoiding sugar-free chewing gums and other sources of sugar alcohols.

 

  1. Take Digestive Enzyme Supplements

 

There are certain over-the-counter products that can be useful.

 

This includes supplemental enzymes that can help break down indigestible carbohydrates.

 

Notable ones include:

 

   Lactase: an enzyme that breaks down lactose, useful for people with lactose intolerance.

   Beano: contains the enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which can help break down indigestible carbohydrates from various foods.

 

In many cases, these types of supplements can provide almost immediate relief.

 

If you're interested in trying a digestive enzyme supplement, a wide selection is available on Amazon.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Many over-the-counter products can be useful against bloating and other digestive problems. These are usually digestive enzymes that help break down certain food components.

 

  1. Don't be Constipated

 

Constipation is a very common digestive problem, and can have many different causes.

 

Studies show that constipation can often exacerbate symptoms of bloating (23, 24).

 

Getting more soluble fiber is often recommended for constipation.

 

However, increasing fiber needs to be done with caution for people who have gas and/or bloating, because fiber can often make things worse.

 

You might want to try taking magnesium supplements, or increasing your physical activity, both of which can be effective against constipation (25, 26, 27).

 

   Bottom Line:

   Constipation can exacerbate bloating symptoms. Increased magnesium intake and physical activity can be effective against constipation.

 

  1. Take Probiotics

 

Gas produced by the bacteria in the intestine is a major contributor to bloating.

 

There are many different types of bacteria that reside there, and they can vary between individuals.

 

It seems logical that the number and type of bacteria could have something to do with gas production, and there are some studies to support this.

 

Several clinical trials have shown that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce both gas production, as well as bloating, in people with digestive problems (28, 29).

 

However, other studies showed that probiotics can help reduce gas, but not symptoms of bloating (30, 31, 32).

 

This may depend on the individual, as well as the type of probiotic strain used.

 

Probiotic supplements can have numerous other benefits, so they are definitely worth trying out.

 

They can take a while to start working though, so be patient.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Probiotic supplements can help improve the bacterial environment in the gut, which can help reduce symptoms of gas and bloating.

 

  1. Peppermint Oil Can Help

 

Bloating may also be caused by altered function of the muscles in the digestive tract.

 

Drugs called antispasmodics, that can help reduce muscle spasm, have been shown to be of use (33).

 

Peppermint oil is a natural substances that is believed to function in a similar way (34).

 

Numerous studies have shown that it can reduce various symptoms in IBS patients, including bloating (35, 36).

 

Peppermint oil is available in supplement form.

 

   Bottom Line:

   Peppermint oil has been shown to be effective against bloating and other digestive symptoms, at least in IBS patients.

 

  1. See a Doctor to Rule Out a Chronic and/or Serious Condition

 

If this problem persists, causes severe problems in your life or becomes a lot worse all of a sudden, then definitely see a doctor.

 

There is always the possibility of some chronic and/or serious medical condition, and diagnosing digestive problems can be complicated.

 

However, in many cases, bloating can be reduced (or even eliminated) using simple changes in diet.

What Causes Abdominal Bloating?

 

Abdominal bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas. Most people describe bloating as feeling full, tight, or swollen in the abdomen. Your abdomen may also be swollen (distended), hard, and painful. Bloating is... Read More

48 possible conditions

 

1

Indigestion

 

Indigestion (dyspepsia) happens to almost everyone. Eating habits or a chronic digestive problem can trigger indigestion.

READ MORE

2

Gas & Flatulence

 

What is flatulence? Commonly known as farting, passing wind, or having gas, flatulence is a medical term for releasing gas from the digestive system through the anus. It…

READ MORE

3

Lactose Intolerance

 

Lactose intolerance is the inability to break down a type of natural sugar called lactose. Lactose is commonly found in dairy products, such as milk and yogurt. A person…

READ MORE

Image source

4

Understanding Gallstones: Types, Pain, and More

 

Gallstones can block your bile duct and cause abdominal pain. Learn how to recognize the symptoms and what the treatment options are.

READ MORE

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5

  1. pylori Infection

 

  1. pylori is a common bacteria that may sometimes cause pain and may lead to ulcers or stomach cancer. Learn about risk factors, complications, and more.

READ MORE

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6

Giardiasis

 

Giardiasis is an infection in your small intestine caused by microscopic parasites called giardia. Read on to learn more about it.

READ MORE

7

Food Allergy Basics

 

Food allergies are overblown responses by the immune system to foods that aren't typically harmful - like eggs and peanuts. Continue reading and learn more about food…

READ MORE

8

Amebiasis

 

Amebiasis is a parasitic infection, common in the tropics and caused by contaminated water. Symptoms can be severe and usually start 1-4 weeks after exposure.

READ MORE

9

Hiatal Hernia

 

A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm and into your chest cavity. Common symptoms include heartburn, belching, and…

READ MORE

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10

Hookworm Infections

 

Hookworms are parasites that affect the small intestine and lungs. Learn more about symptoms and treatment options for this infection.

READ MORE

11

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

 

Premenstrual syndrome causes a wide variety of emotional and physical symptoms. Learn more about it.

READ MORE

12

What Do You Want to Know About Pregnancy?

 

Bleeding or spotting, increased need to urinate, tender breasts, fatigue, nausea, and missed period are signs of pregnancy.

READ MORE

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13

Everything You Want to Know About IBS

 

Learn the symptoms of IBS, what can trigger them, adjustments you can make to ease them, and what can treat them.

READ MORE

14

Malabsorption Syndrome

 

Malabsorption syndrome refers to a number of conditions in which the small intestine is unable to absorb enough nutrients.

READ MORE

15

Intestinal Obstruction

 

If your small or large intestine becomes blocked, fluid and digested food can't pass through. This can cause bloating, stomach cramps, and burping.

READ MORE

16

Gastroparesis

 

Gastroparesis occurs when your stomach takes too long to empty food. We explain the risks and complications, as well as the treatments available.

READ MORE

17

Anorexia Nervosa

 

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can result in severe weight loss. Learn more about warning signs and treatment.

READ MORE

18

Fatty Liver (Hepatic Steatosis)

 

Fatty liver, or steatosis, is a broad term that describes the buildup of fats in the liver. Read on to learn about its causes and symptoms.

READ MORE

19

Hernia

 

A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Read on to learn about its causes and treatments.

READ MORE

20

Colic and Crying

 

Colic is when your otherwise healthy baby cries for three or more hours a day, three or more times a week, for at least three weeks. Symptoms usually appear during your…

READ MORE

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21

Ectopic Pregnancy

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

 

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches somewhere outside the uterus. An untreated ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency.

READ MORE

22

  1. Coli Infection

 

  1. coli is a type of bacteria normally found in intestines. But certain kinds of E. coli can cause infection and severe symptoms like diarrhea and dehydration.

READ MORE

23

Teenage Pregnancy

 

Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy in a woman 19 years of age or younger. A woman can get pregnant if she has vaginal sex with a man at any age after she has started having…

READ MORE

24

What Is Hyperventilation?

 

Hyperventilation is a condition in which you start to breathe very fast. Healthy breathing occurs with a healthy balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out…

READ MORE

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25

Ovarian Cysts

 

Most women will develop at least one cyst on their ovaries during their lives. In most cases, these cysts are painless and cause no symptoms.

READ MORE

26

Colitis

 

Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Read about the different types and associated symptoms.

READ MORE

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27

Peritonitis

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

 

Peritonitis is the inflammation of a thin layer of tissue inside the abdomen, caused by bacteria or fungus. Get the facts on this medical emergency.

READ MORE

28

Celiac Disease: More Than Gluten Intolerance

 

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Learn about celiac disease symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

READ MORE

29

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

 

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Seriously Bloated: Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore

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By Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, Special to Everyday Health

 

We’re seeing a virtual epidemic of bloating these days. The causes range from benign yet bothersome conditions like lactose intolerance to serious diagnoses like cancer. But how do you know whether your bloating is a nuisance or a sign of something more worrisome? You’re seriously bloated when your symptoms are caused by a condition that requires immediate medical attention. It’s important to be familiar with the warning signs and symptoms that might indicate something ominous, as well as the nine diagnoses associated with serious bloating, and what to do about them.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

 

Weight loss is one of the main warning signs for serious bloating. If you find yourself losing more than a few pounds without changing your diet or starting a new exercise regimen, that should be cause for concern, especially if it’s 10 percent or more of your body weight. Weight loss can be caused by tumors that press on the intestines, making you feel full after just a small amount of food, or from substances secreted by tumors that suppress your appetite.

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Ascites is an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen or pelvis. It can cause bloating, weight gain, and a rapidly expanding waistline. Ascites is usually caused by liver disease, but cancer is the culprit about 10 percent of the time. A large amount of fluid can make you look and feel like you’re several months pregnant. The combination of bloating and jaundice, which turns the eyes and skin yellow, can be a sign of cancer that’s spread to the liver, although it can also occur with more benign forms of liver disease like hepatitis.

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Severe abdominal pain and bloating that occur suddenly, especially if you also have nausea and vomiting, may be a sign of a bowel obstruction from scar tissue or a tumor pressing on the bowel. Immediate medical attention is a must to avoid complications like bowel perforation that can be fatal. Obstructions are painful, because the bowel above the blocked area stretches as it fills with food and digestive juices. The pain is intense and may occur in waves as the bowels try to push their contents through the obstructed area.

 

Blood in your stool, vaginal bleeding in between periods, or postmenopausal vaginal bleeding can all be associated with serious bloating. Fortunately, the most common causes of these symptoms (hemorrhoids, an irregular menstrual cycle, fibroids, endometrial atrophy) aren’t the most serious, but bleeding should always be evaluated because it can be a sign of cancer, particularly colon or uterine cancer.

 

Fever that accompanies bloating is usually due to infection or inflammation. If there’s also an elevated white blood cell count, infection needs to be immediately excluded — particularly from a pelvic, urinary, or gastrointestinal source.

9 Causes of Serious Bloating You Need to Know About, and What to Do About Them

 

  1. Ovarian cancer isn’t the most likely, but it is one of the most lethal. Although ovarian cancer is only the fifth most common cancer in women, it causes more deaths than any other reproductive cancer — mostly in women over 50. Risk factors include never having children or having them late in life, obesity, a family history of ovarian cancer, certain genetic abnormalities, and long-term treatment with hormone replacement therapy. Persistent bloating, feeling full faster, and pelvic pain are typical symptoms.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about ovarian cancer:

 

A thorough pelvic exam or transvaginal ultrasound is the best way to diagnose ovarian cancer. The blood test CA-125 isn’t a reliable screening test, but it can be helpful for following the course of treatment after diagnosis.

 

  1. Uterine cancer. In addition to bloating, uterine cancer can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding, a watery or blood-tinged vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, or pain with intercourse or urination. But it’s important to know that sometimes bloating or a change in bowel habits (new onset of constipation) may be the only initial signs of uterine cancer. Important risk factors include taking tamoxifen; taking estrogen supplements that don’t also contain progesterone; radiation therapy; a family history of uterine cancer; or a family history of a form of inherited colon cancer called Lynch syndrome.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about uterine cancer:

 

Combinations of the above symptoms, especially if you have a strong family history or additional risk factors, may point to a more serious diagnosis like uterine cancer. This calls for immediate further investigation with a pelvic exam, and imaging tests like an ultrasound or CAT scan. Fortunately, even aggressive cancers, when caught early enough, can be treated and often cured.

 

  1. Colon cancer can block the inside of the colon, causing progressive bloating. If the cancer is located at the end of the colon in the rectum or sigmoid, there is usually bleeding and a history of worsening constipationColon canceris the second most common cause of cancer deaths in non-smokers in the United States.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about colon cancer:

 

Colon cancer is mostly preventable through lifestyle changes and regular colonoscopy screenings. Some studies have shown that switching to a plant-based, nutrient-rich diet can cut your risk of colon cancer in half. If you think you may be at risk or experiencing symptoms, a colonoscopy is worth pursuing.

 

  1. Pancreatic cancer tends to be very aggressive with low survival rates. The combination of bloating associated with jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), weight loss, poor appetite, and upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back is a worrisome constellation of symptoms and may indicate pancreatic cancer. Newly onset diabetes, in association with bloating, weight loss, and abdominal pain, may also be a sign of pancreatic cancer.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about pancreatic cancer:

 

Fortunately, pancreatic cancer is not a common cause of bloating. But if you do have it, early diagnosis is the key to ensuring a good outcome. Seek immediate medical evaluation if you are experiencing the above constellation of symptoms.

 

  1. Stomach cancer is usually asymptomatic early on, or causes vague symptoms like bloating, indigestion, and a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen. Like pancreatic cancer, it may have already reached an advanced stage at diagnosis, in which case there will likely be additional symptoms of weight loss, nausea, and abdominal pain.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about stomach cancer:

 

Infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori is probably the most significant risk factor for developing stomach cancer, so it’s a good idea to be tested for H. pylori if you think you may be at risk. Nitrates and nitrites in smoked and processed meats are also risk factors for stomach cancer, and in a small number of patients, stomach cancer is genetic.

 

  1. Liver disease is often benign. But cancer from distant organs can spread to the liver. When cancer cells get into the bloodstream, they eventually get filtered through the liver. Bloating that's accompanied by ascites and jaundice may be a sign of cancer that’s spread to the liver or of primary liver cancer, which can develop in people with a history of hepatitis or heavy alcohol use.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about liver disease:

 

If you think you may have liver disease, seek medical attention for a thorough physical exam, an ultrasound of the liver and abdomen, and a blood test that evaluates liver function to confirm the diagnosis. Some liver disease can be treated through dietary changes: more green leafy vegetables, legumes, and other plants, and less animal protein and starchy, sugary foods. Some cases require prescription medication.

 

  1. Diverticulitis refers to infection or inflammation of small pothole-type lesions that can develop in the colon called diverticulae. Diverticulitis usually occurs in people over age 50, and is often accompanied by abdominal pain and tenderness, loss of appetite, fever, and constipation or diarrhea.

 

What to do if you’re concerned abut diverticulitis:

 

Bouts of diverticulitis can be treated in a number of ways: bowel rest (nothing to eat or drink), a liquid diet, antibiotics (if severe pain, fever, or an elevated white blood cell count are present), and analgesia (pain management). Severe tenderness may prompt a CAT scan to exclude an abscess. Worst-case scenario includes drainage of any abscesses, or surgery to remove a severely affected area. The longer your stool sits in the diverticular orifices, the greater the risk of developing diverticulitis — so constipation is definitely to be avoided. Once the acute episode of diverticulitis is over, a high-fiber diet can help keep you regular and avoid future complications.

 

  1. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when the uterine lining, fallopian tubes, or ovaries become infected, usually from sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea.It can also occur during childbirth, abortion, or miscarriage, or with insertion of an intrauterine device. Bloating accompanied by fever, pain, and tenderness in the pelvic area, plus a vaginal discharge, is very suggestive of PID.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about PID:

 

A careful pelvic exam and treatment with antibiotics are essential for PID. Untreated, it can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancies (a pregnancy that implants and grows in the fallopian tubes rather than in the uterus and can cause life-threatening tubal rupture). If you’re having bloating, vaginal bleeding or discharge, and lower back or pelvic pain and think you may be pregnant, you should seek immediate medical attention to exclude PID.

 

  1. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the GI tract, usually in the small intestine or colon. The lag time between initial symptoms and diagnosis can be years, and bloating is one of the early symptoms. Crohn’s can cause narrowing of the intestines and ultimately lead to a bowel obstruction, resulting in severe bloating, weight loss, and nausea and vomiting after meals. Diarrhea with blood is typical when Crohn’s occurs in the colon. There may be other symptoms present outside of the GI tract, including mouth ulcers, joint pain, skin lesions, and inflammation in the eyes.

 

What to do if you’re concerned about Crohn’s disease:

 

Diagnosis is often the most challenging aspect of Crohn’s disease. X-rays and even colonoscopy may not show the inflammation, which usually occurs at the end of the small intestine (the ileum), an area not within easy reach of the endoscope. More sophisticated imaging techniques such as a CAT scan, MRI, or video capsule endoscopy (a tiny ingestible micro-camera in a pill) may be required. Like its sister disease ulcerative colitis, dietary changes, supplements, and more potent prescription drugs all play a role in getting the inflammation and bloating associated with Crohn’s under control.

 

The good news is that most people with bloating don’t have cancer, infection, or inflammation. If you’re not sure whether your bloating is serious, it’s always better to err on the side of seeking medical attention rather than ignoring it and hoping for the best.

 

Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, is the author of The Bloat Cure: 101 Solutions for Real and Lasting Relief, The Microbiome Solution, and Gutbliss. Dr. Chutkan has been on faculty at Georgetown MedStar Hospital in Washington, DC, since 1997. In 2004, she founded the Digestive Center for Women, an integrative practice that incorporates nutritional optimization, exercise physiology, biofeedback, and stress reduction as part of the therapeutic approach to digestive disorders.


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