Thursday, January 11, 2007

Heartburn Myths and Facts

Myth: My heartburn is my fault.
Fact: Too many heartburn sufferers believe that they are to blame for this painful malady. While it is true that certain lifestyle habits and the foods and beverages you eat and drink may aggravate your heartburn symptoms, many people make significant lifestyle changes to prevent heartburn and still experience heartburn. Heartburn is a medical condition with real biological causes, and heartburn sufferers need not compound their discomfort with shame and guilt.

Myth: Heartburn is a fact of life that I can't control.

Fact: People with heartburn don't need to suffer in silence. Changes in diet and lifestyle as well as a fast-growing range of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can provide relief for most sufferers. Surgery or newer non-surgical techniques may be appropriate treatment options for some.

Myth: Heartburn is just a minor, trivial complaint.
Fact: Heartburn is common, but it is not trivial. In fact, frequent heartburn can severely impact the productivity, daily activities and quality of life of those who experience it. In addition, persistent heartburn could be a symptom of a more serious condition called GERD which, if left untreated, can cause or contribute to a wide range of problems such as ulcers of the esophagus, asthma, chronic cough, and in rare cases, cancer of the esophagus. These complications may be avoided with proper monitoring from a physician.

Myth: After-dinner mints offer a soothing way to drift off to sleep.

Fact: Mints on the pillow are generally not a good way to ensure a peaceful night for heartburn sufferers. In fact, bedtime mints combine three common heartburn triggers—chocolate, mint and lying down—making them more likely to inspire heartburn than pleasant dreams for some sufferers.

Myth: Antacids aren't real medicine.
Fact: Many people believe that since antacids are sold without a prescription (OTC) that they are not real medicine. In fact, they are medicine, and you should be sure to read and follow the package directions carefully before using them or any drugs. If used in moderation and occasionally, antacids are generally safe. However, frequent use of certain antacids can cause diarrhea or constipation. Also, since some antacids cause interactions when used with other medications, be sure to let your health care professionals know that you are taking antacids if they are recommending other medications.

Myth: I have to live with my heartburn.
Fact: Many people don't believe that heartburn can actually be prevented, but some of the newer OTC medications can actually prevent heartburn as well as provide complete symptom relief. H2 blockers reduce acid for up to 12 hours. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), more effectively inhibit acid production — and effectively treat heartburn symptoms for 24 hours with one daily pill.

Myth: If I take a drug to suppress acid, I won't be able to digest my food.
Fact: Our bodies produce acid that helps break down food in the stomach and kills harmful bacteria. Acid works together with other substances in the stomach called enzymes to break down food. Even OTC proton pump inhibitors, which work directly on active acid pumps to significantly inhibit acid production, allow enough acid to be produced so that normal digestion of food occurs.

For more articles like this one, and all kinds of general heartburn info, click here.

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