Despite its innocuous name, heartburn can be a distressing experience for many. It's that uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest and upper abdomen, often triggered by something as common as a hearty meal. But what exactly is heartburn, and why does it happen?

In this blog post, we will explore the ins and outs of heartburn, including its symptoms, triggers, and available relief options. From understanding its underlying cause, acid reflux, to identifying potential risk factors, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to manage and alleviate this discomfort with a little help from your local pharmacy in Powell, TN. Whether you're experiencing occasional bouts of heartburn or grappling with its chronic counterpart, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), knowing the signs and strategies for relief is essential. Join us as we navigate through the nuances of heartburn and empower you to take control of your digestive health.

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn occurs when your esophagus is irritated, triggering an uncomfortable burning sensation in your upper abdomen and chest. It is caused by acid reflux, which happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn't close properly, allowing stomach acid to come back into your esophagus. Most people experience heartburn at some time, but most of the time, it is not particularly serious. You can find relief with over-the-counter medication from your local pharmacy in Powell, TN. However, if you experience it regularly, there is a chance that you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. If that is the case, you will need to consult a doctor, as if left untreated, GERD can cause inflammation and ulcers in the esophagus, hoarseness, and some types of lung disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn?

When you experience heartburn, you will feel an intense burning sensation in the middle of your chest and in your throat. Other symptoms might include:

  • Burning pain in the chest after eating or when lying down at night
  • Pain that worsens on bending over or lying down
  • Experiencing an acidic, bitter, or salty taste at the back of your throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling as though you have food stuck in your throat

Heartburn usually lasts only a few minutes but can last for several hours. The symptoms should stop once the last food you had to eat has been fully digested, as once the stomach is empty, no stomach acid should come back up the esophagus. You may find some relief from the symptoms by taking over-the-counter medication. It is important to note that heartburn and indigestion are not the same thing. Indigestion is characterized by discomfort in the stomach after eating, and it can be a symptom of other digestive problems.

What Triggers Heartburn?

Certain risk factors can trigger heartburn, including foods known to either relax your LES or increase the level of stomach acid. These foods include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Coffee & Other Caffeinated Products
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic & Onions
  • Alcohol
  • Food That is High in Fat or Oils
  • Peppermint

If you know you will be eating these foods, it is a good idea to pick up some over-the-counter heartburn medication from your local pharmacy in Powell, TN, so that you are fully prepared to combat the symptoms!

Other factors that can make heartburn more likely include:

  • Eating immediately before going to bed
  • Smoking, vaping, or using tobacco products
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothing
  • Bending over or going to lie down soon after eating
  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Taking medications like antibiotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Treating Your Heartburn

As noted, you can pick up over-the-counter medication from your local pharmacy in Powell, TN, that will help relieve some of the symptoms of heartburn. Some of the most common options include the following:

  • Antacids - Antacids are designed to counteract the acid in your stomach and relieve the burning sensation heartburn causes. Chewing them before swallowing can give faster relief. However, you must be cautious of overusing them, as it can result in undesirable side effects, including stomach cramps and disrupted bowel movements. If you frequently need antacids, it is best to see a doctor.
  • Acid Blockers - Acid (H2) blockers such as cimetidine and famotidine also reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. They don't offer relief as quickly as an antacid does, but the effects can last longer.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors - Another OTC option that reduces stomach acid is proton pump inhibitors such as esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and omeprazole.

If you find that over-the-counter options are not offering you relief, your local pharmacy in Powell, TN, may suggest seeing a doctor to have something a little more substantial prescribed and to make sure that your heartburn is not an indication of something more serious, such as GERD.

Your Hometown Pharmacy Since 1966

Vaughn Pharmacy is a local, family-owned pharmacy serving the community in Powell, TN. Specializing in providing personalized and attentive prescription programs to our patients, we believe you are more than just a number – you’re part of our family!

(865) 947-1581