Based on reported daily heartburn symptoms, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders estimates that five to seven percent of the population suffers from Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn.
Heartburn is often described as a burning pain in the chest and esophagus. You might experience other symptoms like a sore throat, increased pain when eating certain foods or participating in physical activities.
Dr. Raymond Duggan , a gastroenterologist with Scott & White Healthcare – Killeen, says that the only guideline for alleviating heartburn is to eat at least three hours prior to bedtime and avoid the following foods:
- Tomato based products
- Spicy foods
- Anything with caffeine
- Meals with a large fat content
Dr. Duggan advises you to seek medical attention if you have:
- difficulty swallowing
- signs of blood in your stool
- experience a new onset of GERD over 50
- have unintentional weight loss
Or if your symptoms do not resolve or significantly improve within two weeks of taking a Proton Pump Inhibitor or antacids like Prilosec-taken 30 minutes prior to the largest meal of the day. Dr. Duggan says for milder symptoms TUMS® or Rolaids® are okay and for symptoms occurring 2-3 times a week or less Zantac (ranitidine) is a good option.