Severe heartburn is a condition that is likely to feature among individuals suffering from heartburn. While a normal heartburn encounter will involve a burning sensation
on the chest approximately once a week, severe heartburn is more frequent, probably after every meal, and may lead to ulcers as well as cancer of the esophagus. It might be a little hard to know the type of heartburn that an individual could be suffering from but quite vividly, a severe heartburn is frequent and hence the need to seek medical attention for pain relief.
However, before seeking medical attention, it is wise for a patient to carry out a complete audit of their diet as with any normal heartburn, diet is a renowned causative agent. A patient suffering from severe heartburn is advised to look out for spicy and fatty foods, caffeine and carbonated beverages as these are known to aggravate the situation rather than cause relief.
Change of diet will however just augment the patient’s efforts to seek relief. Medical attention will therefore offer to a great extent the desired relief. Medical experts recommend drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that inhibit the production of acid in the stomach. These inhibitors are also recommended for relief where a patient’s lower esophagus has been eroded by the acid.
Another drug capable of offering relief is ‘gaviscon’. It is a tablet that works as both an anti acid and a foam barrier. Once swallowed it forms foams at the base of the esophagus which act as a physical barrier against the acid that may move up the esophagus. On the other hand a patient can also consider the drug ‘reglan’. It works to stop acid reflux by speeding up how quickly the stomach empties. ‘Reglan’ strengthens the digestive contractions that move food through the esophagus. Faster digestion ultimately leads to less heartburn.
Severe heartburn conditions should be responded to through medical attention not only to achieve relief but to avert some otherwise undesired conditions like a permanent damage of the esophagus. The patient should therefore be referred to a specialist, called a gastroenterologist, for a procedure called an endoscopy. This allows the specialist to look inside the esophagus to see whether acid reflux has eroded the delicate lining of the esophagus or caused other damage. This should however not be the only time that the help of a specialist is sought for. Occurrence of heartburn three or four times a week should necessitate a visit to such a specialist.