What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning feeling in your chest just below or behind the breastbone. Heartburn happens when the acid that is normally in your stomach backs up into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach). Some people have heartburn only once in a while. Other people have heartburn after every meal. The condition can be caused by overeating, eating spicy meals, smoking, or many other reasons.
What is acid reflux?
If you get heartburn (a feeling of burning in the chest) more than twice a week you may have acid reflux. Acid reflux is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).Other signs of acid reflux include burning in the throat or an acid taste in the back of the throat or stomach or chest pain or you may feel or have: Stomach or chest pain and/or trouble swallowing and/or raspy voice and/or a chronic cough.
Go to Healthcare Clinic if your heartburn does not go away after taking medicine or occurs more than twice a week. Our nurse practitioners and physician assistants will ask you about your symptoms (something that happens in the body that shows there is something wrong), eating and exercise for the past few weeks. Treatment may include medications or lifestyle changes. Sometimes we may also suggest that you see a gastroenterologist (a doctor who treats problems with the stomach and intestine).
What is the treatment for heartburn and acid reflux?
- Stay away from foods that bother you. Foods that frequently cause acid reflux include chocolate, coffee, peppermint, and fried foods. It is important to not drink alcohol or reduce the amount you drink. If you are overweight, lose weight. If you smoke, stop smoking. It is better to eat five small meals than two or three big meals. Finally, raise the head of the bed six-to-eight inches. Never lay flat for at least three hours after eating. There are medicines to treat heartburn and acid reflux.
- There are three kinds of medicines* to treat heartburn:
- For mild heartburn that occurs less than twice a week, you can try antacids. Antacids like Maalox or Mylanta can be bought at drug stores and grocery stores. Antacids are short-acting.
- Histamine blockers are stronger and last longer than antacids. Pepcid AC, Tagamet, and Zantac are histamine blocker. You can buy histamine blockers without a prescription at most grocery stores or drug stores.
- The third type of medicine is a proton pump inhibitor. Prilosec OTC is a histamine blocker. Stronger histamine blockers need a prescription.
This treatment is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 years and older.
Walk in or schedule an appointment at the Healthcare Clinic nearest you.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
1 Prescriptions written when clinically appropriate. Patients have a choice of pharmacy.
2 Service is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.
* Patient care services provided by Take Care Health Services, an independently owned professional corporation whose licensed healthcare professionals are not employed by or agents of Walgreen Co. or its subsidiaries, including Take Care Health Systems, LLC.