Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio
Nicholas P. Martinez, MD
Gastroenterologist located in San Antonio, TX
Heartburn can cause agonizing pain in your chest and a highly unpleasant burning sensation in your esophagus. Nicholas Martinez, MD, is a board-certified gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio who specializes in finding the cause of heartburn and providing effective treatment options. If heartburn is affecting you, make an appointment with Dr. Martinez by calling his San Antonio office or using the online booking feature today.
Heartburn Q & A
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is an intense, burning pain felt in your chest and esophagus that’s caused by stomach acid flowing back up from the stomach. The pain is often more severe after a meal, and when you lay down or bend over. You may also have an unpleasant, acidic taste in your mouth, and sometimes regurgitate food.
Stomach acid is a powerful substance that’s normally kept within the stomach by the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that allows food and liquid into your stomach but stops anything coming back out.
If the sphincter isn’t working correctly, stomach acid can travel back up your esophagus, causing heartburn. Certain foods are more likely to trigger heartburn in some people, such as:
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Fatty food
- Fried food
- Fizzy drinks
- Drinks containing caffeine
Heartburn is also more likely following a large meal or one that contains a lot of fat. Being overweight or pregnant also increase your chances of developing heartburn.
Should I be concerned if I have heartburn?
The occasional bout of heartburn, particularly if you know what caused it, isn’t too much to worry about, and over-the-counter antacids should provide relief. You should see Dr. Martinez if you’re experiencing more than two episodes of heartburn each week, or if:
- Antacids aren’t helping
- You’re having trouble swallowing
- You have nausea or vomiting that doesn’t pass
- You’re losing weight
If you’re experiencing heartburn regularly, Dr. Martinez may diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you have GERD, it requires treatment to prevent serious damage to your esophagus.
Dr. Martinez may carry out an endoscopy to look at your esophagus and stomach if he suspects you have GERD. During the endoscopy, Dr. Martinez can also take a biopsy (tissue sample) for analysis.
What are the treatment options for heartburn?
If over-the-counter antacids aren’t relieving your heartburn, Dr. Martinez can prescribe H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs) or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce the quantity of acid your stomach produces.
Lifestyle changes are key to dealing with heartburn, so you should:
- Keep to a healthy weight
- Avoid tight clothes
- Wait at least three hours after eating before you lay down
- Avoid eating late at night
- Avoid any food you know triggers heartburn
- Quit smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Eat sensible portion sizes
If heartburn is affecting your sleep, try elevating the head of your bed or use a wedge to raise your upper body.
For relief from chronic heartburn, call Gastroenterology Clinic of San Antonio or schedule an appointment with Dr. Martinez online today.