Heartburn relief - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Heartburn relief

(FOX19 NOW) (FOX19 NOW)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux relief are the focus of numerous TV ads offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers every day.

Despite the attention, most people don’t know the basics about these conditions, the differences between them and how to make simple changes to bring relief.

FOX19 invited Yvette Steffens from CVS Minute Clinic to discuss the differences and when you should be concerned.

Q. What’s the difference between indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux? And when can they be a sign of a more serious problem?
 
A. It’s really a question of location, frequency and severity. Indigestion is stomach discomfort after eating.

Heartburn -- which ironically doesn’t affect your heart -- is when you experience a burning sensation in your middle chest or abdomen following meals. If these occur occasionally and you respond well to OTC antacid medications, it shouldn’t be a concern.

If, however, you have discomfort after meals on a frequent basis, you should see your primary care provider because it could be a sign of something more serious, such as acid reflux, gall bladder issues or heart disease.

And by all means, if you are experiencing abdominal or chest pain that doesn’t go away after taking an antacid, you should visit an emergency department right away.
 
Q. What is acid reflux and how do you know if you have the condition?
 
A.
Acid reflux is heartburn you experience after eating when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus and throat creating pain and discomfort. You can also experience this when lying on your back or leaning forward. Again, it’s a matter of frequency. So I like to say: If you’re in doubt, check it out.

See your PCP or visit us at one of our Minute Clinic locations inside select CVS Pharmacy stores in the Cincinnati and Dayton metro areas. We can provide guidance on whether a particular OTC medicine will help; if you would benefit from diet and lifestyle changes; or whether you really need a higher level of care to thoroughly evaluate your condition.
 
Q. Do over the counter medications help?
 
A. They can. Antacid tablets, liquid or soft chews should bring pretty quick relief. Medicines like Ranitidine (the generic for Zantac) or Famotidine (known as Pepcid) will provide longer lasting relief; particularly at night when you’re sleeping. But these should only be used on a periodic basis. If you find that you need them after most meals, it’s probably a sign of a larger problem.
 
Q. Can changing your diet reduce s discomfort after eating?
 
A. Yes. Eating smaller meals throughout the day vs. larger meals can help. Also, eating at a slower pace to let your stomach better manage the food. And there are definitely some foods that exacerbate these issues. So avoid fatty and fried foods, spicy dishes, foods high in acid such as citrus juices and tomato-based products. Chocolate, mint and alcohol are also triggers. Keeping a journal of what you eat often helps you to identify foods that are problematic.
 
Q. What lifestyle modifications do you recommend?
 
A. Smoking and obesity are big contributing factors, as they are for many chronic issues. We have programs at Minute Clinic to help you with each of those. Other tips include waiting two to three hours before lying down after a meal, especially if it’s a large one. Avoid bending over or straining after meals. Elevating your head when you lie down. And not wearing tight clothing or belts.
 
Q. What about some recent studies that suggest long-term health issues with taking OTC medications for heartburn/indigestion? Particularly with dementia or heart disease?
 
A. There has been no direct cause/effect issues identified with taking these medications and there could be a variety of other health-related factors for individuals who experience chronic conditions. However, the long terms effects of any medication are always something that is evolving. You should discuss any questions or concerns you have with your PCP; particularly if it’s a medicine you take on a regular basis.

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