What Is Acid Indigestion

By: Mel Joelle


Acid indigestion, also known as heartburn, is a burning sensation in the chest after eating. It is caused by stomach acid coming back up, or refluxing, and reaching the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Acid indigestion is a fairly common condition, affecting nearly one-third of the population occasionally, while up to 10% of adults suffer from acid indigestion daily. It is very common in pregnancy as well, with 1 in 4 pregnant women reporting daily bouts of heartburn for at least some of their pregnancy.



Symptoms of Acid Indigestion

Acid indigestion is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack because the symptoms can be somewhat similar. If you have any suspicion that you may be having a heart attack and not heartburn, it is critical that you seek medical attention immediately.



The main symptom of heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the upper abdomen and chest which can sometimes radiate into the back, jaw and throat. The burning can get much worse when bending over, lying down or after a particularly heavy meal. Pain usually starts within 30-60 minutes of eating and tends to recede gradually as food is being digested.



Causes of Acid Indigestion

Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) remains open or relaxes after eating, which allows stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. Certain foods can exacerbate or cause the loosening of the LES, including peppermint, caffeinated drinks, chocolate, alcohol and foods high in fat. Foods that are spicy or acidic can irritate the lining of the esophagus and cause a worsening of your symptoms.



Putting pressure on the abdomen tends to increase the chance of acid indigestion, so it is important to avoid wearing tight clothing and be aware that coughing, bending, straining, having a hiatal hernia, being obese and being pregnant can increase symptoms of heartburn.



Certain medications can also cause trouble with acid indigestion, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and osteoporosis medication.



Treatment of Acid Indigestion

Many times, heartburn can be successfully treated by avoiding foods and activities that cause it and by taking over the counter medications such as antacids. Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime and try to stay upright for up to an hour after eating to help keep stomach acid where it belongs.



If home treatments are not offering relief, it may be time to talk to your doctor about prescription remedies to alleviate the pain and burning of heartburn. Prescription histamine-2 blockers, such as Zantac, Tagamet, Pepcid and Axid, all work to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. Reglan is a drug that helps empty food and acid more quickly and also helps to tighten the LES. The third and last type of drugs to be used are the proton pump inhibitors, which prevent the secretion of acid altogether. Common brands include Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium.



When Is Acid Indigestion Serious?

If you experience acid indigestion two or more times a week, you may be experiencing a more serious condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD can be severe and can cause scarring of the esophagus. Please see your doctor if you are having repeated episodes of acid indigestion. Treatment to stop the erosion of the esophagus is important to prevent long term problems associated with GERD. Find more information on the causes and cures associated with acid reflux be sure to visit Reflux Remedy at www.refluxremedy.com today!

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