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What to Do When Heartburn Lingers


Heartburn—that burning sensation in the chest or throat—happens to most of us now and then. Too much food, or eating certain foods, tends to bring it on. If it shows up only occasionally, it’s probably not serious.


Severe, chronic heartburn is a different story. Known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, it occurs when the muscle between the esophagus (your swallowing tube) and  the stomach becomes weak.


Who Is Affected?


GERD can affect, men, women, children and infants. Pregnant women frequently experience GERD because progesterone, a hormone produced during pregnancy, relaxes the muscle between the esophagus and stomach allowing the contents of the stomach to pass up into the esophagus. The pressure caused by the baby’s position on the abdomen can also push stomach acid up to the esophagus. People who are overweight, smoke, abuse alcohol or have a chronic illness, like diabetes or asthma, are more prone to this problem.



Although GERD can make you feel lousy, there are more important reasons to prevent it. Some chronic conditions, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), actually can worsen with GERD. It also can complicate treatment by mimicking symptoms of other problems. For example, GERD can cause severe chest pain, similar to a heart attack.


Lifestyle Changes


Help prevent GERD by carefully managing your condition. If you experience heartburn, talk with your doctor. GERD often is treated with medication, but lifestyle changes also can help reduce symptoms. Try to:



  • Elevate the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches.
  • Do not lie down within 2-3hours after eating
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.
  • Eat small, frequent meals, instead of 3 large meals.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that can trigger GERD, such as chocolate, citrus fruits, spicy, greasy or fatty foods, tomatoes, coffee, and carbonated beverages.
  • Limit alcohol.


Visit your Rite Aid Pharmacist to help you carefully manage your condition.




“Fact Sheet: Heartburn and GERD.” Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, September 2012. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0048152/#i984.s3.

“Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/related-conditions/gastroesophageal-reflux-disease.aspx.

“Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in Adults,” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/       ddiseases/pubs/gerd/.

“Gastroparesis.” American Diabetes Association, February 5, 2014.

“GERD and LPR.” American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery,


“Treatment Options for GERD or Acid Reflux Disease.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0016453/.

“Heartburn during pregnancy” BabyCenter .