Heartburn

NY Gastroenterology & Digestive Disorders

Stuart I. Finkel, MD

Board Certified Gastroenterologist & Internist located in Upper East Side, New York, NY

Heartburn is a painful condition caused by rising acid in your esophagus that is often triggered by certain foods or stress and can sometimes occur with more serious symptoms. Stuart Finkel, MD, of NY Gastroenterology & Digestive Disorders in Upper East Side, New York City, can help identify severe or chronic heartburn and treat its symptoms. Usually, heartburn is mild enough to manage on your own, but more severe symptoms can mean a trip to see Dr. Finkel is in order. Call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

Heartburn Q & A

What causes heartburn?

Heartburn happens when there’s a problem with a muscle at the bottom of your esophagus called your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Usually, this muscle stops the acid in your stomach from rising into your unprotected esophagus, but when it’s not working, the rising acid can cause a painful burning sensation in your abdomen. This pain may worsen when you bend over, after you eat, or when you lie down to go to bed.

When should I see a doctor about my heartburn?

If you get heartburn occasionally, it’s generally not a cause for alarm. Most people can manage their heartburn symptoms on their own by avoiding certain foods and taking over-the-counter medication.

But when heartburn interferes with your quality of life, it’s time to see Dr. Finkel. If you’re having heartburn multiple times a week or it’s especially severe and unresponsive to over-the-counter medicine, you should schedule an appointment at NY Gastroenterology & Digestive Disorders. Other warning signs can include difficulty swallowing, nausea, and vomiting.

If you experience chest pain or pressure during your heartburn, especially combined with pain in your arm or jaw, you should seek help immediately as these can be signs of a heart attack.

What foods can trigger heartburn?

As many foods can cause heartburn to flare up, some things to avoid include:

  • Spicy or acidic foods
  • Onions
  • Citrus products
  • Tomato products, including ketchup
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated sodas
  • Coffee
  • Any especially large meal

In general, maintaining a balanced diet with plenty of fiber will help you avoid unpleasant bouts of heartburn.

Can heartburn lead to other complications?

If left untreated, chronic or severe heartburn can lead to more serious conditions. Long-term heartburn is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and it can lead to these more serious symptoms:

  • A chronic cough
  • Laryngitis
  • Inflammation or ulcers in your esophagus
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Barrett's esophagus, which increases your risk of esophageal cancer

Because of these risks, be mindful of the frequency and severity of your bouts of heartburn, and see Dr. Finkel if it becomes concerning.

If your heartburn has resisted over-the-counter medication or is lowering your quality of life, call NY Gastroenterology & Digestive Disorders or schedule an appointment online today.