Acid Reflux & Heartburn

Although the two are easily confused or used interchangeably, heartburn is simply one of the symptoms of acid reflux. Heartburn is a feeling of burning pain or discomfort in the chest area that can be quite uncomfortable for those who regularly get it. If you suffer from acid reflux, the acids from your stomach flow back into your oesophagus, causing discomfort, heartburn and other symptoms.

Acid Reflux & Heartburn
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What is the Difference between Acid Reflux and Heartburn?

A circular-shaped muscle called the lower oesophageal sphincter connects your oesophagus to your stomach. The muscle works at tightening the oesophagus when food passes to the stomach. If this muscle isn’t tightening as it should and is weak, acid from your stomach can move backward into your oesophagus. This process is known as acid reflux.

It can be extremely painful and linger on and on. Heartburn as such is not technically a condition on its own, and is also not something related to the heart. Instead, it is a symptom of acid reflux.

In addition to heartburn, other acid reflux symptoms include a cough, sore throat, a sour taste in the mouth, a bitter taste towards the back of the throat, and burning/pressure that you can feel up towards the breastbone. It can also feel like you have something stuck in the back of your throat, making it difficult to swallow.

How is Acid Reflux Caused?

A common cause of acid reflux is a stomach abnormality known as a hiatal hernia, which can afflict people of all ages. A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper section of the stomach and lower oesophageal sphincter move above the diaphragm. The diaphragm separates our stomach from our chest and makes sure acid is kept in the stomach. Therefore, this move above the diaphragm lets acid creep into your oesophagus.

Sometimes, there may be no obvious reason for your acid reflux and heartburn however and it may simply be caused or exacerbated by one or more factors. For example, certain food and drink (coffee, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods) could cause symptoms, and acid reflux is often common amongst those who are overweight, pregnant, smoke, are stressed, or take certain anti- inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen.

Treatment for Acid Reflux & Heartburn

At Medical Specialists® we have a wide range of both prescription and non-prescription effective treatments for acid reflux and heartburn, so you can be sure to find the best treatment that works for you. Your own doctor will have usually evaluated the benefits/side effects of certain acid reflux medicines and have already found the most suitable one for you to take.

A drug which reduces the amount of acid made in your stomach is a common treatment for acid reflux (known as proton pump inhibitor) and usually works well. Some people need long-term daily acid reflux medication to keep symptoms away while others may only need short courses of medication when symptoms flare up.

Moreover, some relatively simple lifestyle changes could help reduce the chance of suffering with acid reflux and its associated symptoms.

Try eating smaller portioned meals, more frequently. Raising the end of your bed where your pillow is by 10 to 20cm (i.e. putting something under your pillow or mattress) may help too. Doing this means your chest and head are now above waist level and stomach acid should not work its way towards your throat. Finally, losing weight (if you are overweight) and learning relaxation methods could both limit the symptoms of acid reflux.

Lansoprazole vs Omeprazole - What's the Difference?

There are obvious similarities between Lansoprazole and Omperazole; they are both proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and therefore work similarly within the body in the treatment of acid, reflux and indigestion.

However, there are some subtle differences that you should be familiar with.  Lansoprazole is considered the more potent of the two and works quicker, especially when treating acid reflux.

In regards to Lansoprazole, antacids such as Gaviscon may reduce absorption of Lansoprazole from the gastrointestinal tract, and thus reducing its efficiency. Though not life-threatening or serious, this can be very frustrating if you experiencing uncomfortable symptoms you want to treat quickly. Therefore, it is typically advised to not take Lansoprazole within an hour of taking antacids. Allowing this hour gap between the two medications can reduce this risk.

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