Arghhh... I've got this horrible sensation where my heart feels like it's on fire my throat is burning as if acid has been injected into it and I feel like I'm about to gag!
It happens to nearly all of us at one time or another. You enjoy a delicious meal, settle back for some relaxation afterward, and then it hits. The burning sensation in your chest and the bitter taste in your mouth.
For some, the burning gets so intense that it feels as though your chest is on fire. This is where the term "heart burn" comes from, even though the pain has absolutely nothing to do with your heart.
In some severe cases, heart burn can even be mistaken for a heart attack or vice versa - making this condition appear to be more serious than it really is. For most, the pain of heart burn is enough to leave us running for relief from our medicine cabinet. And the good news is that this solution is usually sufficient to put that burning sensation to rest once and for all.
Before discussing treatment options for heart burn, it is important to understand exactly what happens in your body to create this painful sensation after a meal.
At the base of your esophagus, there is a ring-like muscle that is called the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES. Usually, this muscle relaxes to allow food to move from your esophagus into your stomach, where it is digested by your stomach acids. The LES then closes, so that the food and acid inside your stomach cannot creep back up the digestive tract into your esophagus. If this muscle does not work properly for one reason or another, substances in the stomach can indeed come back up, resulting in burning as the stomach acids reach the esophageal lining creating a bitter taste as they make their way to your throat and mouth.
Effective Heart Burn Treatments
Most folks who only occasionally suffer from heart burn will benefit from an over the counter remedy when the condition strikes. This might include an antacid, like Rolaids that will neutralize the stomach acids quickly, giving you relief from the painful burning. Another good over the counter treatment for heart burn is an H-2-receptor blocker, such as Tagamet HB or Pepcid AC. These medicines work differently from the antacids, because they actually reduce the production of acid rather than neutralizing it. And while they are not as speedy as their antacid counterparts, they do tend to bring relief for a longer period of time. Some heart burn sufferers will find that a 1-2 punch will work the best on this condition, with an antacid bringing immediate help while the H-2-receptor blocker will offer relief over the long term.
Like any persistent ailment if you find yourself suffering with more frequent bouts of heart burn, we recommend that you talk to your doctor and get a proper diagnosis so that he/she may point out additional remedies available. Remember frequent occurrences of this condition can lead to damage to the esophageal lining, in which case a prescribed treatment becomes more imperative.