August 08, 2013

If Heartburn Persists, See Your Doctor

Heartburn--that burning pain in your chest--happens when stomach acid is regurgitated back up through the esophagus.  When is it serious enough to stop using over the counter remedies and see your doctor?  If you've had heartburn so long that you have trouble swallowing, then it's a sign that damage to the esophagus has been building for a while.  The esophagus may be inflamed, scarred or full of ulcers.  Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, especially if you're vomiting blood.  Occasional heartburn is often relieved with a simple antacid.  However, after weeks of not seeing results, prescription medication may be indicated. Your doctor will monitor how you respond and how long to continue your treatment.  If heartburn occurs several times per week for more than two weeks, you need to be checked.  Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States.  When you have a hacking cough causing chest pain that just won't go away, and it can't be explained by a respiratory infection, then it might be heartburn related.  Finally, if your heartburn feels particularly severe, go to a hospital--you may be having a heart attack!  

Source:  Discovery Health

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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