pain or discomfort in one or both arms, stomach, neck, jaw, or back
If a person has some or all of these symptoms, they should seek emergency medical attention. In the words of the American Heart Association (AHA), “If in doubt, check it out.”
Knowing how to distinguish a heart attack from heartburn can save lives.
A person may alleviate symptoms of heartburn by using drugs such as:
antacids, which are over-the-counter (OTC) medications that help relieve mild heartburn
proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which reduce the amount of stomach acid
H2 blockers, which are a type of medication that reduces the stomach acid levels and may help heal the esophageal lining
It is important to note that PPIs heal the esophageal lining and treat GERD symptoms more effectively than H2 blockers.
Additionally, H2 blockers can produce various side effects, such as diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, and headaches.
In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that manufacturers remove all forms of prescription and OTC ranitidine (Zantac), an H2 blocker, from the market because of its unacceptable levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine, a probable carcinogen.
Changes to lifestyle and behavior can prevent or improve heartburn symptoms.
A person may prevent heartburn by avoiding acidic foods and drinks that contain caffeine.
Getting more exercise, reaching or maintaining a moderate weight, eating smaller meals, and sitting upright after eating may also help avert heartburn.
Many people experience heartburn occasionally. Usually, it is no cause for concern.
However, if a person has heartburn regularly, they should contact a healthcare professional, who may recommend dietary changes and regular exercise and make suggestions with regard to posture, among other things.
If lifestyle and behavioral changes do not prove effective, a doctor may recommend OTC medications, such as antacids or H2 blockers.
If a person is unsure whether they are experiencing symptoms of heartburn or a heart attack, they should seek immediate medical attention.
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