How can I manage my heartburn?

Adult male with heart attack or heart burn condition, health and medicine conceptIt is called heartburn for a reason — the pain can be so intense it is confused with a heart attack or other heart conditions.

For those who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, it can be draining because of its intensity. Heartburn can affect our quality of life, limit productivity and, because it can occur at night, cost us valuable hours of sleep.

Acid in the digestive system can back up and cause the burning sensation in the middle and upper part of the chest beginning around the breastbone, even being felt up into your neck and throat.

Severe heartburn is responsible for more than half of emergency room visits for chest pain, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

To be clear, those who believe they are having a heart attack shouldn’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention. This includes if you experience chest pain during exercise, also have arm pain, have a rapid heartbeat, are short of breath, break into a heavy sweat, become light-headed, or have tightness in your chest.

For those who must live with heartburn, there are a number of treatments and tips to curb the discomfort:

• Try to sit up or elevate your upper body as much as possible during heartburn. Laying down can exacerbate the condition. Standing up often helps.

• Avoid spicy, acidic and fatty foods, and onions and tomatoes. Other causes can include alcohol, milk, some juices including citrus, and caffeinated and carbonated drinks.

• Avoid eating close to bedtime.

• Do not wear tight clothing.

• Over-the-counter antacids are available. Some over-the-counter medications provide more immediate relief while others are available in two-week regimens that might not provide more immediate comfort. A doctor or pharmacist can help in determining the best option for you.

If this is a common condition for you or you have never been diagnosed, you should consult your physician.