It’s not uncommon for the average person to experience a mild case of heartburn, and fortunately very few of those folks ever experience the pain of chronic heartburn. The difference between the two conditions is that the latter shows up more often and lasts longer when it does.
If you are one of those people who experiences painful heartburn several times per week, then chances are that you are suffering from chronic heartburn, or something even more serious.
Heartburn, also sometimes referred to as acid reflux or pyrosis, is usually brought on by a combination of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Those items can cause problems in the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the valve that controls the flow of stomach acid. When the LES fails to function properly, the acid is forced up to the esophagus and that is when heartburn strikes.
If you are a sufferer of chronic heartburn, then you probably already know about these factors:
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition that causes stomach acid to flow in the wrong direction, sending it to the esophagus over and over again. Not only will it cause the traditional chest pain of heartburn, but might also severely damage the esophagus.
If not treated GERD can make swallowing painful, and may even worsen to the point where it causes other issues such as esophageal or stomach cancer.
Living with GERD can be extremely difficult and can cause many a sleepless night. The pain can make it very hard for people to live their life as they normally would and may lead to symptoms other than just heart burn. Those can include bad breath, excessive belching, and inflamed gums. Your doctor should be consulted and will decide which treatment option will work best for you.
Hiatal hernia is another condition that contributes to heartburn and is one that may actually end with you having to go in for surgery. This condition causes a domino effect that starts with the stomach pushing up into the diaphragm, which in turn prevents the LES from closing. When that happen, the flow of stomach acid cannot be properly controlled which usually ends in heartburn.
It is possible for chronic heartburn to be treated with antacids, as well as some crucial lifestyle changes. It’s better to be safe than sorry though, and you should talk to your doctor first. He will be able to what it is that is specifically at the root of your heartburn problems and will help you figure out which course of treatment will be most effective in helping you.