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Tackling Heartburn or to give its full title Gastro-Oespohageal Reflux Disease

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Tackling Heartburn or to give its full title Gastro-Oespohageal Reflux Disease.

The acid in your stomach is needed to breakdown your food before it can be absorbed into the body.  It can breakdown any organic matter.  The stomach has a protective lining to prevent itself becoming broken down and has a valve/sphincter at one end, to allow food to enter and to prevent the contents of the stomach spilling back into the oesophagous (Foodpipe).  At the bottom end of the stomach, the second sphincter (valve) opens to allow broken down material to enter the small intestines where it will be absorbed by the body and have further Enzymes from our body added.

This system works well, providing the acid stays where it should!  Unfortunately other factors play a part in this not working quite as it should, acid can leak at either end of the stomach and cause pain.  When it leaks into the food pipe (the oesphagous) from the top valve of the stomach, we experience the pain we commonly call heartburn, or indigestion.

Maybe we ate too much, too quickly, too spicy food or suffer from an already inflamed gut.  If we are overweight, have a leaky valve, tight clothing all these can cause problems.  NSAIDS or none steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to give them their full title, which have the trade names of: Ibrufen, Ibrobrufen, Nurofen Naproxen to name a few.  These drugs can damage the protective layer in the stomach giving rise to pain from the acid.

If the person in front of you is rubbing/holding his chest after eating, has suffered this before.  They will generally know what it is and may have some antacids on them in pockets or handbags, which will generally settle the acid and ease the pain reasonably quickly.

However, if this is the first time they have experienced this pain.  Do not dismiss it as heartburn.  Look for other symptoms; are they pale, sweaty, feel like they are dying?  Take heed and dial 999 and observe them.  Treat it as a potential heart attack.  It is common for individuals to be admitted to hospital with a suspected Heart Attack and it turns out to be Heartburn/ulceration of the gut.

Health professionals often cannot tell the difference between heartburn and a heart attack at first look.  Normally this can only be decided on further investigation, blood tests, or ECG Electrical Cardio Graph of a heart rate.

If in any doubt call 999 and get them seen by the Emergency Medical Services as soon as possible.  It is better to find out it is Heartburn than to have a Heart Attack go untreated and possibly die.