Frequent heartburn isn’t a normal part of life. Here’s what a GI doc insists you to know.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably felt heartburn at least once in your life—whether you’ve realized it or not. You know, it’s that burning feeling in your chest after you endure the wrath of a night of heavy drinking or inhale a late-night burrito. Ahhh, yes.
While you may know some of the foods and eating habits that trigger heartburn, do you know what’s *actually* causing it?
“When someone feels heartburn, what’s usually happening is acid is coming up from their stomach and flowing backward up into the esophagus,” says Roshini Raj, MD, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Health. “This causes irritation or burning to the lining of the esophagus, so they feel a burning in their chest area right behind their breast bone.”
Mild heartburn may seem like it’s no biggie, since often times you can just treat your acid reflux by popping an over-the-counter antacid, like Tums. But if you’re feeling heartburn on the regular, it’s a very different story.
“I think heartburn is so common that people assume that it’s a normal part of life,” says Dr. Raj. “The truth is, it’s not. You shouldn’t be experiencing heartburn frequently. It could be a sign of something more serious.”
People who have frequent heartburn or other acid reflux symptoms (at least two to three times a week) may have what’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This frequent acid reflux can cause other bothersome symptoms too, like nausea, bad breath, and trouble swallowing. Learn more about the difference between heartburn and GERD.
The consequences of untreated acid reflux don’t stop there. “In some cases, acid reflux can go onto more serious conditions, like narrowing of the esophagus or even esophageal cancer,” says Dr. Raj. “So you don’t want to just accept this as part of your life, you want to make sure that you’re getting the correct diagnosis, evaluation, and the correct treatment.”
Dr. Raj is a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and an attending physician at NYU Langone Medical Center.
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I think heartburn is so
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common that many people assume
that it's a normal part of life.
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And the truth is, it's not and
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you shouldn't be experiencing
heartburn frequently and
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it could be a sign of something
more serious going on in your body.
00:00:13,331 --> 00:00:19,715
00:00:19,715 --> 00:00:23,692
When someone feels heartburn, what's
usually happening is acid is coming up
00:00:23,692 --> 00:00:26,827
from your stomach flowing backwards
up into the esophagus and
00:00:26,827 --> 00:00:30,340
it's causing irritation or
burning to the lining of the esophagus.
00:00:30,340 --> 00:00:34,690
So they will feel burning in their
chest area right behind of breastbone.
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Even though night time heart burn
is a fairly common symptom it's
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not something you should ignore.
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It's often a sign that there is
acid bathing your esophagus and
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potentially causing damage or inflammation
that could have long term consequences.
00:00:46,890 --> 00:00:51,540
In some cases, acid reflux can go
on to more serious conditions,
00:00:51,540 --> 00:00:54,830
narrowing of the esophagus,
or even esophageal cancer.
00:00:54,830 --> 00:00:57,489
So you don't wanna just sort of
accept this as part of your life,
00:00:57,489 --> 00:01:00,846
you wanna make sure that you're getting
the correct diagnosis, evaluation and
00:01:00,846 --> 00:01:01,905
the correct treatment.
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Patient education: Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease) in adults (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. (Accessed on July 3, 2018 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/acid-reflux-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-in-adults-beyond-the-basics)