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Heartburn Treatment

Many people experience occasional heartburn, an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest often attributed to indigestion. But what happens when heartburn is frequent? Chronic heartburn can significantly affect quality of life and it can even indicate a more serious health problem. At Alabama Surgical Associates, our heartburn specialists are experienced in diagnosing the causes of chronic heartburn and offering personalized treatment plans to provide long-lasting relief from the discomfort of heartburn.

What Causes Heartburn?

Heartburn, despite its name, is not an affliction of the actual heart. Rather, heartburn is primarily a disorder of the esophagus, which is located near the heart but is part of the digestive system. The esophagus carries food from your mouth to your stomach, and there is a muscle at the bottom, called the lower esophageal sphincter, that opens to allow food and drink into the stomach and then closes when you are done swallowing. Heartburn occurs when this muscle is weakened, which allows stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. This reflux of stomach acid causes the burning sensation of heartburn.

Heartburn can be caused or aggravated by a number of lifestyle factors, including:

  • Obesity A body mass index (BMI) over 25 can increase the chances of chronic heartburn
  • Certain Foods Common heartburn triggers include red wine, chocolate, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, tomatoes, spicy foods, and carbonated beverages
  • Smoking can damage the tissues around the esophagus and impair esophageal muscle function
  • Hiatal Hernia A hiatal hernia is a type of hernia that allows abdominal contents to push through the diaphragm
  • Is it Heartburn or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

    If your frequent heartburn is severe enough that it prevents you from sleeping or causes difficulty eating, then it may be a sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is a chronic condition that causes severe acid reflux and heartburn symptoms, and can cause more serious medical issues if left untreated. Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

    How is GERD Diagnosed?

    If you suffer from frequent heartburn, it is important to see an experienced GERD specialist who can diagnose the root cause of your heartburn symptoms to determine if GERD treatment is necessary. If left untreated, GERD or chronic acid reflux can cause tooth decay, esophageal erosion, and can even lead to esophageal cancer. The doctors at Alabama Surgical Associates use a number of advanced tests to find your diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Non-surgical diagnostic tools may include a barium swallow radiograph (also known as an “upper GI”), an endoscopy, or pH monitoring.

    Am I A Candidate for Heartburn or GERD Treatment?

    Dr. Doucette and Dr. Foreman have helped many patients find relief from the discomfort and inconvenience of chronic heartburn. Take our self assessment to learn which heartburn treatments may be beneficial for you.*

    Take the Heartburn Quiz

    *This self-assessment is not meant to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician or another qualified health provider with any concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

    Contact Us

    The Alabama Surgical Associates team is dedicated to helping patients in the Huntsville area live healthier lives. Contact us with any questions about heartburn or GERD treatment, or to schedule a consultation.