How to Get Respite From Persistent Heartburn

Worried black woman holding her chest in pain from persistent heartburn at home.

Most people have experienced heartburn at one point or another. It isn’t at all uncommon! In fact, one study found that something like 60 million Americans experience heartburn every single year. Depending on your diet, heartburn will present a mild to moderate level of distress for most people.

But heartburn can be a much bigger issue for some people. Unfortunately, heartburn symptoms are more persistent and sometimes even chronic for these individuals. It can be tempting to dismiss or self treat persistent heartburn because heartburn is generally a fairly routine healthcare concern.

And that’s an issue. Much more severe medical issues can happen if persistent heartburn is left untreated. You’ll want to consult your doctor to get relief from chronic heartburn.

What causes chronic heartburn?

There’s acid in your stomach. It’s okay, though! This acid doesn’t harm you, actually, it aids in digestion, helping to break down food (making it easier to digest). For the most part, this stomach acid won’t ever bother you. There’s a valve known as the lower esophageal sphincter (more commonly known as the esophagus) that keeps the stomach acids in check. This valve lets food down your esophagus but blocks anything from coming back up. (Well, under normal conditions).

When a little of this stomach acid finds its way back up past the esophagus Heartburn is the outcome. This is also why heartburn is called acid reflux. Heartburn usually happens for the majority of individuals after eating certain foods. Your heartburn will typically go away in a short while if it’s a dietary scenario.

But what if you’re becoming concerned about when or if your heartburn will go away? Well, when that heartburn doesn’t go away, for example, if you experience heartburn at least twice a week (every week), you might have persistent or chronic heartburn. The best plan in situations like this is to consult your doctor.

Heartburn can cause, and be caused by other health issues

How much of a threat is persistent heartburn? Well, the answer to that question is complex. It’s more correct to think of heartburn as a symptom. Both the symptoms and the underlying causes of heartburn can lead to serious health complications.

That’s why chronic heartburn symptoms might mean that it’s time to get checked out by an ENT. Here are some of the most prevalent health concerns related to chronic heartburn:

  • Esophageal ulcers: Though fairly common, esophageal ulcers can become pretty serious. Over time, exposure to stomach acid can wear down the mucus in the esophagus and cause a hole or sore to develop. Ulcers like this can lead to significant complications, including scarring and a constricting of the esophagus (making swallowing more dangerous). Ulcers can also bleed. Esophageal ulcers require prompt treatment, so make sure to speak with us if you suspect you might have them (or are having regular heartburn).
  • Barrett’s Esophagus: The lining of the lower esophagus can be compromised when continuously exposed to stomach acids from persistent heartburn. A condition called Barrett’s Esophagus can result over time. It’s important to keep a close watch on this condition because it increases your long-term risk of developing esophageal cancer.
  • Issues with your mouth: You can get lesions and sores in your mouth, not to mention bad breath, from chronic heartburn.
  • Esophagitis: When your esophagus becomes significantly swollen, it’s called esophagitis. Problems with swallowing and extreme pain can be the result of this extreme swelling.

The primary cause of heartburn is a condition known as GERD

It’s difficult to discuss persistent reflux without also dealing with a condition called GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. In most instances where people have chronic heartburn, GERD is the cause.

When the valve that keeps stomach acid from going up past the esophagus begins to fail or totally fails, GERD is the consequence. This scenario will cause stomach acid and undigested food to get up into places it shouldn’t be. How can I tell if I have GERD? Well, symptoms of GERD include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic heartburn.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Regurgitation of food (especially when you lay down).
  • Trouble sleeping.

GERD is often treated in a number of different ways. In some situations, medication can help regulate and minimize excess stomach acid production. But in some more severe cases, a surgery that uses a small magnetic clamp to strengthen and repair the failing valve.

Significant complications can result from untreated persistent reflux and surgery can help bring those symptoms under control. That’s why it’s important to contact us if you believe you have GERD.

We can help you control your symptoms

Having heartburn now and then is perfectly normal (especially if your diet is particularly… demanding). But the symptoms of chronic heartburn should never be disregarded. More significant problems in the future can be the consequence. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your heartburn severity when you talk to your doctor.

Heartburn symptoms can normally be successfully controlled and mitigated, which means you can find peace again! Calling us for a consultation is the first step!


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.