The Serious Side Of Heartburn
For many people, heartburn can seem as ubiquitous as a headache. They experience it from time to time and on occasion more often than they’d like, but for the most part it’s not a problem. Maybe they just steer clear of that hot curry vindaloo or sleep a little more upright when needed. And if they need to be more proactive there’s always a quick swig of antacid, right?
For a lot of people, living with heartburn isn’t that simple. In fact, if you consider yourself ‘someone who gets heartburn’, it’s likely you know how frustrating things can get. Dramatic changes in lifestyle, constantly having to take antacids - heartburn has the uncanny ability to be a pain in more ways than one.
And for a select few, things don’t stop there. Heartburn is the result of acid reflux, the process of stomach acid flowing through a valve at the top of the stomach and burning the sensitive esophageal tissue beyond. When this occurs infrequently, say less than once a week, it’s probably only mild heartburn. You still need to get it under control but it shouldn’t impact your overall health. It’s when you experience heartburn consistently, either every day or close to it, that you need to see your healthcare professional. This is because constant stomach acid coming into contact with oesophageal tissue can cause more serious health issues.
What to do.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to treatment options because everyone’s heartburn is different but there are guidelines based on how often you experience symptoms.
If it’s around two times a week, you’re probably ok heading to your pharmacy for a treatment like Losec®. Unlike antacids, which only temporarily relieve symptoms, Losec® is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) so it’s able to target the problem at its source, reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces. And it’ll do this longer term. Take one tablet a day for two weeks and you could be symptom free up to three months1 If you or your healthcare professional think a PPI treatment can help, keep in mind Losec® is the only one that uses a multi-unit pellet system (MUPS®) to allow each tablet to be absorbed by the body efficiently. If you’re not sure what you’re being prescribed, just ask for Losec® by name. If you experience persistent heartburn, which could be every day or close to it, you should see a healthcare professional first just to ensure there’s nothing else going on.
Whether you experience heartburn rarely or persistently, the rule of thumb is to get it under control early. That way you’re more likely to enjoy life without the worry of a flare up or more serious health issues later.
1Fendrick et al. (2004) Self-Selection and Use Patterns of Over-the-Counter Omeprazole for Frequent Heartburn. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2:17-21 Losec and MUPS are registered trade marks of the AstraZeneca group of companies. Losec is a Pharmacy Only Medicine. Each Losec tablet contains 10mg omeprazole and each Losec Extra tablet contains 20mg omeprazole. For the short-term relief of reflux-like symptoms. Losec: Take 2 tablets once daily and reduce to one tablet daily when symptoms improve. Losec Extra: Take 1 tablet daily. Not to be used if under 18 years old, in presence of alarm symptoms or if pregnant. Please refer to the label or Consumer Medicine Information for further information. Always read the label and follow the instructions. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. Bayer New Zealand Limited, Auckland. DA 2043AH L.NZ.MKTG.08.2020.05408