Almost everybody will experience some form of heartburn or acid reflux at some point, whether it be a burning sensation in the chest after eating or an acidic taste following a burp.
It is caused by the value at the bottom of the oesophagus letting stomach acid escape into the oesophagus, sometimes travelling upwards as far as the throat.
Heartburn regularly affects over 25% of UK adults, so common in fact that it is often overlooked or dismissed. For most people, if experienced occasionally, heartburn can be uncomfortable but not a cause for concern.
However, recurring and long-term heartburn is the most frequent symptom of a lesser-known condition – gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often causing undue pain and lasting damage as it goes unrecognised and untreated. It has been estimated that GERD accounts for over 50% of undiagnosed chest pain1, affecting up to 20% of the population2,3.
GERD is the chronic form of acid reflux; it is a more serious disease that can have a profound effect on our quality of life. If left untreated, reoccurring stomach acid can go on to cause long term damage such as swelling and scarring to the lining of the oesophagus, causing more intense pain and even leading to the development of a more serious precancerous condition, Barrett’s oesophagus.
Often dismissed as ‘just heartburn’, many sufferers accept the discomfort and inconvenience of GERD as part of their daily life. However, there are both lifestyle changes and medicines that could stop millions from unnecessarily suffering.
GP Dr Sarah Jarvis recommends,
“For mild, occasional heartburn, medicine to neutralise the acid from your stomach can help. But for more frequent heartburn, medicine which stops heartburn at the source, reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces, will bring longer lasting relief.
I, like most GPs, recommend proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole because they provide effective relief over a whole 24-hour period. Because they reduce acid production, they can also reduce inflammation and scarring on the lining of your gullet.
Try to identify foods that trigger your heartburn and eat accordingly. Common offenders include fatty and spicy foods, as well as coffee and alcoholic drinks.
Avoid eating heavy meals near bedtime to allow your stomach time to digest before lying down.
Not wearing tight clothes around your tummy and losing weight will also help by reducing pressure on the stomach.”
Whereas other treatments mask the problem, Omeprazole, the ingredient most frequently prescribed by GPs, blocks the release of acid at the source, decreasing acidity inside the stomach and leaving only a small amount required for digestion.
Pyrocalm Control, containing omeprazole, the ingredient most prescribed by GP’s, is now available online at https://www.