*This post is brought to you by the CHPA Educational Foundation and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
As we make our way into Fall, that means heartier meals to keep warm and as the holidays approach, richer and more decadent meals too. And for many, that means dealing with uncomfortable and even painful heartburn. So before things get out of hand this food filled season, here is some information that may be able to help you or someone you know that suffers from heartburn symptoms.
Did you know that more than 1 in 4 adults experience heartburn symptoms at least once a week? Yes, millions of these individuals experience frequent heartburn, meaning their symptoms recur at least two days per week. That’s why it’s important to know about your options for treating heartburn symptoms. Different heartburn treatments work differently; the right treatment depends on the frequency and cause of your heartburn.
Also referred to as acid reflux, heartburn is an uncomfortable, painful, or burning feeling in your chest or throat that may begin after a meal and last a few minutes to many hours. Other symptoms may include a hot, sour, or acidic fluid feeling in the back of your throat, as well as a cough that lasts for a while, sore throat, or hoarse voice.
Occasional heartburn is extremely common and can be managed with lifestyle changes as well as certain OTC medicines such as antacids. Frequent heartburn is defined as symptoms occurring two or more days per week. Frequent heartburn can generally also be treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and OTC medicines like OTC PPIs.
For all types of heartburn, lifestyle considerations, like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and diet changes, are an important first step in helping to manage your symptoms.
For frequent heartburn, over-the-counter (OTC) proton pump inhibitors (or OTC PPIs) are the only nonprescription medicines designed to treat frequent heartburn. They help to block and decrease the production of stomach (gastric) acid.
For occasional or chronic heartburn, there are different ways to treat those symptoms: antacids or H2 blockers for occasional heartburn, and prescription-strength PPIs and other treatments—including surgery – for chronic heartburn.
If you think you suffer from frequent or chronic heartburn, there are some important things to keep in mind when treating it with OTC PPIs:
- The proper course of treatment for OTC PPIs is one 14-day course every four months, unless directed by a healthcare provider.
- It is always important to read and follow the OTC Drug Facts label.
- If you have questions regarding OTC PPIs, ask a healthcare provider (e.g., physician, pharmacist, nurse practitioner, etc.).
- A healthcare provider can also help determine if prescription PPIs or other treatment are appropriate for you.
- Sometimes heart issues can feel like heartburn, so it is important to seek medical care for chest discomfort that you suspect may be heart-related, or for heartburn symptoms that don’t go away despite taking an OTC PPI.
So whether you or someone you know suffers from occasional or frequent heartburn, be sure to get more information on treatments for heartburn symptoms by visiting the digestive health page on KnowYourOTCs.org. The website has helpful information to the different symptom treatment considerations for heartburn. Created by the CHPA Educational Foundation, the site serves as an OTC information resource to help you use, store, and dispose of your medicines safely.
Here’s to a heartburn free holiday season!