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October 30, 2020 04:00am
By Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Heartburn, which is often a result ofacid refluxorgastroesophageal reflux disease, is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest. Approximately 2 in 10 individuals in the United States experiences heartburn at least once a week. Although occasional heartburn is common and can be managed by incorporating lifestyle changes and taking OTC medications, more frequent heartburn that interferes with a patient’s daily routine may be a symptom of something more serious.
Signs and Symptoms
Patients with heartburn can experience a variety of symptoms, including:
Although the specific triggers of heartburn vary in each individual, factors that can contribute to heartburn include:
Tests and Diagnosis
For patients whose heartburn is not relieved by lifestyle modifications and OTC products, a gastroenterologist may recommend a more comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Patients may undergo an endoscopy, a biopsy, and ambulatory pH monitoring. Surgery may be an option for patients with severe reflux or for those who respond poorly to medical treatment plans.
Heartburn symptoms can be avoided by maintaining a healthy weight, eating small meals, quitting smoking, and avoiding triggers and behaviors that contribute to acid reflux flareups.
Treatment and Care
Heartburn can be manageable if patients:
Patients should consult with a physician or pharmacist about the best course of treatment to relieve heartburn symptoms. If symptoms do not abate with lifestyle changes and use of OTC medications, patients should inform their physician and discuss the next steps in the treatment plan.
Homeopathic and Alternative Remedies
Patients can find symptom relief by making changes such as avoiding restrictive or tight clothing and elevating the head off the bed 4 to . Patients whose heartburn is caused by stress and anxiety may want to consider the following:
A number of OTC medications are available to relieve heartburn symptoms, including some products that previously were only available by prescription. OTC medications for heartburn include:
Pharmacists can counsel heartburn patients on the proper use of these products. It is important that patients inform the pharmacist of all medications they are taking, to help prevent serious drug interactions or contraindications.
Resources for Patients
In addition to consulting with their physician and/or pharmacist, patients can find information at the following sites:
Resources for Pharmacists