Heartburn Pamphlet v2.0 - College of Pharmacy - University of Florida


Heartburn Pamphlet v2.0 - College of Pharmacy - University of Florida

Don’t let heartburn control you life.

Heartburn -

What You Need to


What is Heartburn?

Hearburn is a common condition

also known as acid indigestion. It is

generally expressed as a feeling of

burning in your throat (esophagus)

or mid-chest. In more severe cases,

health professionals refer to heartburn

as GERD (gastroespohogeal

reflux disease) or acid reflux.

Do I have Heartburn?

Heartburn effects approximately 25 million Americans

every day. An estimation of 50 million Americans

experience it more than once a week.

Incidence of heartburn among pregnant women

ranges from 45% to 85% and as many as 25% of pregnant

women experience heartburn everyday.

What are the Signs and


NOTE: If signs and symptoms are

severe and chest pain lasts more

than a few minutes seek medical


-Sharp burning sensation in the throat or mid chest

-Chest or Abdominal Pain that does NOT generally

radiate to shoulders or arms

-Rarely accompanied with lightheadedness or shortness

of breath

-Bad breath, coughing, wheezing and hoarseness

may also occur

University of Florida College of Pharmacy

What Causes Heartburn?

Heartburn is when acid in the

stomach flows backwards, or refluxes,

into the esophagus. Stomach

acids are not meant to reach

the throat and the tissue there can

become irritated or damaged by

the corrosive acids. Your body has

two ways to regulate this problem.

(1) a valve, or sphincter, that

keeps the acids out of the throat

and (2) regulates the acids produced

in the stomach. These 2

controls can be compromised by

several factors.

Diet-Eating spicy foods, peppermint,

chocolate and fatty foods

Positions– Bending over or lying

down, especially within 2 hours of


Medical-pregnancy, hiatal hernia,

certain medication (ask your pharmacist),


Lifestyle-Being overweight, smoking,

hectic lifestyle, stress, tight


Some causes are more serious

than others. GERD

(gastroesophageal reflux disease)

can contribute to other medical

conditions if left untreated, so

medical attention may be required.

Heartburn can be confused

with stomach ulcers, which may

need medical attention from a

healthcare professional.

Don’t get burned by heartburn.

What Can We Do?

How Can I Prevent Heartburn?

Heartburn sufferers, there is hope. A significant reduction

in the severity and frequency of symptoms can be

accomplished with certain prevention strategies. You

can modify your risk for heartburn by changing the food

you eat and the things you do.

Certain foods make heartburn symptoms worse or occur

more often.

These foods are called trigger foods. While some things

might be triggers for one person, they may not be triggers

for another person. Triggers can be

highly individualized, so it is important

to know what foods affect YOU. Keep a

log of the foods that affect you the most

and do your best to avoid these foods.

Common Trigger Foods…


Fatty Foods


Tomato sauce

Caffeinated drinks

Carbonated beverages


Aside from changing your diet, there are many other

modifiable lifestyle behaviors that can help alleviate or

even prevent heartburn.

Lifestyle Modifications…

Avoid laying down after eating for at

least 2 hours

Losing weight

Wear loose fitting clothes

Quit Smoking

Decrease Stress

For more information please visit…

The National Heartburn Alliance


Digestive Health Foundations www.gesa.org.au

Images provided by: jupiterimages.com,

www.hallcounty.org, sacred-heart.org

University of Florida College of Pharmacy

How Can We Treat Heartburn?

Heartburn prevention is key to reducing the

frequency of these occurrences. If symptoms

persist, there are a variety of over-thecounter

treatments available. All of these

heartburn treatments help to reduce stomach

acidity. Selection of a specific treatment

may depend on frequency and severity

of occurrences. Here are the main treatment

options for over-the-counter heartburn.

Antacids – help to provide fast relief of

symptoms by neutralizing acid secretions

in the stomach

Bismuth Subsalicylate – not only acts as an

antacid, but also has anti-inflammatory

actions and works as a mild antibiotic

H-2 Antagonists – decrease the amount of

acid the body releases into the stomach

Proton Pump Inhibitors – directly block acid

production & for people who do not

respond to other treatment.


Symptoms >3 months duration, while taking

recommended dosages of medications

for more than 2weeks

Severe or nocturnal heartburn

Pregnancy or nursing mothers

Alarm symptoms (dysphagia, choking,

chest pain, GI bleeding, weight



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