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Managing Heartburn

Managing Heartburn

Advisory by Tran Anh Nhi, Guardian Pharmacist

Friendly Farmacist Friday: Heartburn can bring a lot of discomfort and ruin a perfectly good meal. Find out how you can minimise experiencing this unpleasant sensation with these tips.

What is heartburn?
Heartburn is the burning sensation or pain at the lower chest, caused by the back-flow of gastric acid into the oesophagus (food pipe).

What can trigger heartburn?
Some triggers of heartburn include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Overeating
  • Side effects of medications

Some common foods that can trigger or worsen heartburn include:

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Fatty or fried food
  • Acidic food or beverages
  • Carbonated drinks

How can heartburn be managed?
Besides avoiding the triggers, wearing looser fitting clothes and minimising bending over or lying down right after a meal will help to reduce your chances of heartburn.

You should also eat smaller meal portions and stop eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

What are the medications available for heartburn?
Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications, like antacids, can be used to relieve heartburn by neutralising the gastric acid.

More potent medications such as famotidine or ranitidine can only be obtained from pharmacists. These medications inhibit acid secretion and should be considered when antacids are ineffective.

When should a doctor be consulted?
Occasional heartburn is not dangerous. However, chronic heartburn should be treated as it can cause serious damage to the oesophagus.

If the heartburn persists for more than two weeks despite ongoing self-treatment, you should consult a doctor for further investigation.

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