Self care effective for heartburn relief
Heartburn and indigestion can affect up to four out of every 10 people and it’s also an ailment that is a great candidate for self care, according to both Consumer Health Products Canada and Self Care Forum, a British-based promoter of self-care practices.
Heartburn or indigestion, which is also known as dyspepsia, presents itself through pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen and chest. It often comes after overeating or eating high fat meals and symptoms can also include burping and bloating.
Dyspepsia can be caused by acid reflux from your stomach, inflammation of the gullet or when a part of the stomach squeezes through the diaphragm muscle into the chest, known as a hiatus hernia. It can also be caused by certain medicines as a side effect or from a bug called helicobacter pylori. Less commonly, the pain could be caused by a stomach ulcer or cancer of the stomach or gullet.
Symptoms should usually improve after one to two weeks but if you are taking for indigestion medicines for more than a couple of weeks, you should see your family doctor.
For about 80 per cent of people who have these symptoms, lifestyle changes will bring vast improvement. These lifestyle changes include eating healthier and losing weight. Avoid fatty or fried meals and refrain from eating large meals late in the day. It is best to avoid carbonated soft drinks, coffee and alcohol. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly can also offer an improvement. There are many medications in both prescription and non-prescription form that can help symptoms if lifestyle changes alone don’t.
Over the counter medicines are generally antacids that neutralize acid in the stomach, although some medications are called proton pump inhibitors, which are also available over the counter. It is not advised to take these medications for long periods of time without consulting with your doctor first.
If you are using aspirin and ibuprofen regularly, consult with your doctor as those drugs have been known to cause indigestion. If you smoke, reducing or cutting tobacco consumption may help improve your symptoms.
Heartburn and indigestion rarely cause any major medical problems but if you are aged 55 or over, you should seek medical attention. If you suffer from severe, persistent or unexplained pain in your upper abdomen for more than three week, you should also consult a doctor, especially if your symptoms include breathlessness, sweating or vomiting.
See a doctor if you vomit blood or dark lumps that resemble coffee grounds, if your stool becomes very dark or tar like, if you feel faint or have collapsed, if you have difficulties swallowing or if you suffer from unexplained fever, night sweats, weight loss for no apparent reason or swelling or a mass in your upper abdomen.
This article, written by Alberta-based freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by Postmedia Network