Heartburn

Heartburn is a very common diagnosis in the United States and it becomes even more prominent form women in their pregnancy. It is characterized by pain in one’s chest behind the breastbone. There is usually a burning pain occurring in the chest that usually occurs after eating and at night. Conditions that may worsen heartburn are when you are lying down or bending over. One should seek medical attention when:

  • Heartburn occurs more than two times a week
  • Symptoms don’t subside with medication
  • There is difficulty swallowing
  • Consistent nausea or vomiting
  • There is weight loss due to poor appetite or difficulty eating.

Causes of heartburn include:

  • Stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food from the mouth to your stomach
  • Lower esophageal sphincter relaxes abnormally or weakens → acid reflux

Risk factors along with being pregnant include:

  • Spicy foods
  • Onions
  • Citrus products → oranges
  • Tomato products → ketchup, sauces
  • Fatty or fried foods → chicken, fries
  • Peppermint → candy
  • Chocolate
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated beverages
    • Coca-Cola
    • Sprite
    • 7 Up
  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Large or fatty meals.

Pregnancy exacerbates heartburn which can complicate into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which may require medication or surgical intervention. Women who reside in Denver should visit the Denver Holistic Center for information if their symptoms worsen. A physician will do the following for a confirmative diagnosis:

  • X-ray – view shape and condition of the esophagus or stomach
  • Endoscopy – check abnormalities of esophagus
  • Ambulatory acid probe tests – identify when and for how long stomach acid backs up into the esophagus from the stomach
  • Esophageal motility test – measure movement and pressure in esophagus.

Treatment:

  • Antacids – neutralize stomach acid
  • H2-receptos antagonists – reduce stomach acids
  • Proton pump inhibitors – lamsoprazoe and omeprazole – reduce stomach acid

If you are pregnant and have history of heartburn, you should:

  • Maintain a healthy weight – ask your OB what your ideal weight should be
  • Avoid tightfitting clothes – when you eat, the pressure me extensive on your abdomen and lower esophageal sphincter
  • Do not lay down after a meal – wait about three hours
  • Do not eat too late at night
  • Elevate head of your bed
  • Do not smoke and avoid irritants
  • Try
    • Aromatherapy
    • Gentle exercise
    • Hypnosis
    • Listening to music
    • Massage
    • Relaxation techniques.

These symptoms are most common for women in their third trimester of pregnancy due to the pressure the growing uterus places on the intestines and stomach. Pregnant women should eat yogurt, drink a glass of milk, and try a tablespoon of honey with warm milk to relieve heartburn. All pregnant women should seek medical attention as the symptoms begin to prevent any possible complications or need for extraordinary measures.

 

Figure 1 – This is what is happening when heartburn is worsened during pregnany.

Figure 1 – This is what is happening when heartburn is worsened during pregnany.