If you've ever suffered chest pains, you know how concerning it can be. Anything that involves discomfort anywhere near your heart is cause for worry. The good news, however, is that what might feel like heart palpitations or even a heart attack is usually a gastrointestinal problem. Acid reflux can cause pain in the upper abdominal area—this is known as heartburn—that can feel as if one is having a heart attack. If this sounds familiar, here are some things you should know about acid reflux before seeking cardiology services in Suffolk County, NY.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when your esophageal sphincter doesn't completely close. This valve controls the passageway between the stomach and esophagus, so when it fails to close all the way, your stomach's acid is liable to flow backward into the esophagus. This backward flow of acid is known as acid reflux. Some of the causes of acid reflux include delayed stomach emptying, an excess of stomach acid, and poor clearance of food from the esophagus.
What Is GERD?
Acid reflux that's severe enough that it leads to chronic symptoms is known as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, or GERD. Typically, while GERD most commonly manifests as heartburn, it can also cause regurgitation, a sore throat, hoarseness, coughing, difficulty swallowing, wheezing, and chest pain. If you believe you may have GERD, you may need prescription medication to ease the symptoms or may even require surgery.
How Can You Relieve Acid Reflux?
While several over-the-counter antacids are effective at bringing relief due to acid reflux, these are only temporary solutions. However, there are steps you can take that can help you avoid excess heartburn and unnecessary trips to a cardiology center.
- Eat more slowly. A full stomach is more likely to reflux into the esophagus. Slow down when you eat and consider eating more small meals instead of a few big ones.
- Steer clear of some foods. There are a few kinds of foods that can lead to excess stomach acids. Spicy foods, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, and alcohol have all been known to exacerbate acid reflux.
- Avoid strenuous activities after meals. While mild activity is perfectly acceptable, it's unwise to engage in anything too strenuous within a couple of hours after eating.
- Lose weight. This isn't a problem for everyone, but if you're carrying too much weight, the lower esophageal sphincter's muscular structure can spread, preventing it from closing properly.
- Avoid carbonated beverages. It might feel like a relief, but the act of burping sends acid to the esophagus. Stop drinking soda, and switch to flat water over sparkling.
If you've tried making these changes, and you find that you're still suffering from acid reflux, you should make an appointment with Peconic Bay Medical Center. Besides housing the finest cardiology clinic in Suffolk County, NY, we have the physicians and medical resources you need to stay in the best of health. Make an appointment today.