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Over-the-counter remedies for heartburn

  1. One in five Dutch people suffer from it every week and almost everyone knows the feeling: heartburn or acid regurgitation. What self-care products are there for these complaints? And when is it wise to see a doctor?

  1. The transition from the esophagus to the stomach is a sphincter (also called sphincter or sphincter) that acts like a valve. We call this 'stomach mouth' the cardia. Normally there is one-way traffic. In principle, food that has passed the sphincter cannot be returned. When the cardia is not working properly or if the pressure in the abdomen is too high, the stomach contents can come up. This happens, for example, in the case of obesity, pregnancy, suddenly bending or lying down or after a heavy meal. Smoking, drinking coffee and alcohol, or eating chocolate can impair the functioning of this sphincter muscle. In addition, some drugs have a negative effect on the cardia. Even with a rupture in the diaphragm, where part of the stomach rises above the diaphragm, this sphincter cannot do its job properly. Tension or stress makes the stomach extra sensitive.

  2. The transition from the esophagus to the stomach is a sphincter (also called a sphincter or sphincter) that acts like a valve. We call this 'stomach mouth' the cardia. Normally there is one-way traffic. In principle, food that has passed the sphincter cannot be returned. When the cardia is not working properly or if the pressure in the abdomen is too high, the stomach contents can come up. This happens, for example, in case of obesity, pregnancy, sudden bending or lying down or after a heavy meal. Smoking, drinking coffee and alcohol or eating chocolate can impair the functioning of this sphincter muscle. In addition, some medications have a negative effect on the cardia. Even with a rupture in the diaphragm, where part of the stomach rises above the diaphragm, this sphincter cannot do its job properly. Tension or stress makes the stomach extra sensitive.

Reflux and heartburn

  1. The result is a burning sensation behind the sternum and sometimes in the throat. You feel it when acidic stomach contents come up into the esophagus. We call this heartburn or acid regurgitation (reflux). The stomach itself is protected from the acid by a special layer, but the esophagus is not. As a result, the esophagus can eventually be damaged if stomach acid often comes up. You will notice this in pain when swallowing. It feels burning in your throat and you can taste it too.

Which self-care products are there for heartburn?

  1. If you suffer from heartburn, you can basically treat it yourself. There are several medicines to treat heartburn:

Gastric acid binders

  1. Gastric acid binders (antacids and alginates) are mainly used if you do not suffer from heartburn as much or as often. Think of complaints that last up to a few hours and often occur after dinner and in the evening. A gastric acid binder neutralizes stomach acid quickly. You can usually also use them during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They work smoothly and for several hours and you can use them several times a day. Gastric acid binders come in the form of powders, suspensions (liquids) and chewable tablets. Gastric acid binders based on magnesium and aluminum hydroxide are quite mild. For example algalrate / magnesium hydroxide suspension. Most products of this type contain both substances. These have the least chance of side effects such as constipation or diarrhea. More powerful are calcium, sodium or magnesium carbonates. Sodium carbonates are not suitable for people with high blood pressure.

Gastric acid inhibitors

  1. Gastric acid inhibitors (H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole or pantoprazole, also called PPIs) ensure that your stomach produces less stomach acid. They are absorbed into the bloodstream and ensure that the stomach acid production in the stomach wall is inhibited. Thanks to the much less acidic environment, the irritated stomach wall can relax. You use antacids for complaints that occur more frequently, more severely and for a longer period of time and that occur not only during the day but also at night. Antacids start to work after a few hours, but work for a longer time. H2 blockers between 8-12 hours and PPIs up to 24 hours.

  2. Gastric acid inhibitors (H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole or pantoprazole, also called PPIs) ensure that your stomach produces less stomach acid. They are absorbed into the bloodstream and ensure that the stomach acid production in the stomach wall is inhibited. Thanks to the much less acidic environment, the irritated stomach wall can relax. You use antacids for complaints that occur more frequently, more severely and for longer, and that occur not only during the day but also at night. Antacids start to work after a few hours, but work for a longer time. H2 blockers between 8-12 hours and PPIs up to 24 hours.

What does grandma say about heartburn?

  1. There are several home remedies that are said to help with heartburn. For some people, milk (with or without anise) or cola would bring relief. Also mentioned are raw potato juice, a sip of vinegar, purified chalk, pineapple (fresh, not canned), raw oatmeal flakes, and fresh basil. In addition, some people would benefit from sleeping on the left side and cough drops. None of these remedies have been scientifically proven to really help. Moreover, the advice is often contradictory.

Can you keep taking stomach acid?

  1. Although long-term use is not a problem with most heartburn medicines, it is wise not to use them for more than two weeks without doctor's advice. After all, stomach complaints can always indicate something more serious. So go to the doctor if the complaints persist for a long time.

  2. Although long-term use is not a problem with most heartburn medicines, it is wise not to use them for more than two weeks without doctor's advice. After all, stomach complaints can always indicate something more serious. So go to the doctor if the complaints persist.

When to see the doctor?

  1. If the symptoms do not go away by themselves after a week or two - or because of the use of over-the-counter medicines -, contact your doctor. It is also wise to go to the doctor with babies and young children who have stomach pains. The doctor may refer you to a specialist for further examination.

Always go to the doctor when:

  1. Children complain of stomach pain (pain in the upper abdomen). If the complaints get worse. If the pain radiates to arms, jaw or back. If you feel pain in the esophagus after swallowing or if you feel like the food is not going down properly. When you vomit blood or have black stools When you inexplicably lose weight, have less appetite and are tired. If you were treated for a stomach or duodenal ulcer less than a year ago. When vomiting in combination with losing weight or severe fatigue. If you are older than 45 and have complaints for the first time. For a pressing, nagging pain in the abdomen during pregnancy. If you are very bothered or worried about the pain. If you have adjusted your eating and lifestyle habits and have been using an anti-stomach medicine for two weeks, while the symptoms have not improved during that period. A



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