Saturday, 22 October 2011
One common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is heartburn-like pain. But a number of other conditions can cause that burning feeling in your chest.
Most often, your family doctor will be able to identify whether you have heartburn or GERD by doing simple tests.
Nine other conditions that can cause heartburn-like pain
The biggest clue is if you get heartburn when you are doing strenuous or moderate activity.
Also if you are over age 50 and get heartburn—especially if you have never had this kind of pain before—increases suspicion of angina. Suspicions are also raised for those who are younger but have heart risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease
If you have stomach pain after meals that doesn't get better after you take an over-the-counter acid-suppressing medication, gallstones should be suspected.
Acid-suppressing medications may help ulcer pain, but ulcers are most often caused by Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. Pylori, a bacteria that inflames the stomach lining, so you will need to see your family doctor and take antibiotics to clear the infection.
This condition pushes food and stomach acid up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Other symptoms of hiatal hernia include chest pain, belching, and nausea. Your family doctor will typically prescribe acid-suppressing drugs, and recommend lifestyle changes such as eating smaller meals, avoiding alcohol, and not eating right before bed. Surgical repair may be needed in some cases.
Although having this condition is highly unlikely, if you have longstanding heartburn, and especially if you have risk factors for this condition such as smoking or drinking heavily, your family doctor may decide to order an upper endoscopy to examine your esophagus.
For gastroparesis, treatment can include lifestyle changes like eating smaller meals, avoiding fat and fiber and taking medications. The key here is to get your blood sugar under control and your family doctor can help you with this goal.
The esophagus can also become inflamed from taking certain medications, particularly if the pills are taken without water, allowing them to remain in the esophagus. Be sure to take medications with plenty of water. A third type of esophagitis, called eosinophilic esophagitis, occurs when white blood cells invade the esophagus. Your family doctor can assist in treatment for this.
Pleuritis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection, and resolves when the infection does.
Reducing stress and anxiety can ease heartburn. Try exercise, meditation, therapy, yoga, tai chi, or deep breathing.
Your family doctor can help you get to the root of the problem. Especially if acid-reducing medications have not helped, or if your heartburn-type pain is recurring, it is important to sit down and have a good discussion with your family physician about your specific symptoms and how to get to feeling better.
Dr. Paul Leavitt is a Board Certified Family Doctor and practices at Leavitt Family Medicine in Hendersonville, TN. At Leavitt Family Medicine, we are here for you, for all of your medical and health care needs. We welcome your questions and comments and invite you to visit us at www.leavittfamilymedicine.com Let us know how we can help you today!
Posted on 10/22/2011 9:39 AM by Paul J. Leavitt, M.D.
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