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Brats, burgers, and drinks: Watch for heartburn — article by Scott keith

Posted Aug 12 2010 12:00am

There’s still plenty of summertime left. In many parts of the country, September is simply gorgeous – still warm, but a better chance for cool breezes. A perfect time of year for outdoor barbecues. Neighbors are sure to be attracted to the smell of hot dogs, steaks and hamburgers grilling in your backyard.

As you enjoy your late summer barbecue, remember to baby your stomach. A frequent complaint is heartburn, a painful condition caused by acid that moves from the stomach to the esophagus. Stress, smoking, aging, and obesity are among factors that can contribute to “acid reflux.” If you suffer from heartburn two or more days per week, you have “frequent heartburn.”

In an e-mail interview with Men and Health, It’s a Guy Thing, Dr. Michael G. Rahmin, board certified internist and gastroenterologist at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, says, “Heartburn is often described as a painful, burning sensation in the lower chest, behind the breastbone, that often happens after eating. The feeling can last from a few minutes to several hours.”

Rahmin says you should examine the types of food that you eat. Acidic fruits, fried and oily foods, onions, peppers, highly-spiced foods, fatty meats, chocolate, coffee and mints can contribute to heartburn. There’s also a chance you’ll get heartburn if you eat within three hours of going to sleep.

Heartburn should not be ignored. Don’t think you can spend a lifetime popping antacids without having any thought of your digestive system. Rahmin, who also has a private practice in the New Jersey area, says, “In some cases, the acid reflux that causes heartburn can lead to changes in the lining of the esophagus, which is a serious condition and requires the care of a physician.”

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), H2 blockers and antacids are among the possible medications to discuss with your doctor. They each work in a different way, says Rahmin. “PPIs are specifically indicated for treating frequent heartburn. The most recent PPI to receive FDA approval for over-the-counter use is Zegerid OTC, which offers 24-hour relief for frequent heartburn with one dose a day as part of a 14-day course of treatment.” Rahmin cautions that, “as with any over-the-counter heartburn medicine, you should thoroughly read the label before deciding whether the product is right for you, and stop use and ask a doctor if you need to take one of these products for more than 14 days.”

Rahmin has advice for baby boomers, in particular. “While young at heart, boomers need to recognize that their digestive tracts aren’t as forgiving as they once were. More than any generation, boomers want to enjoy life and, for most, there is no reason to write off any food category, particularly in moderation. But even with a watchful diet, some may need medication to help keep stomach acid under control.”

Some great food for thought as you plan your late summer picnics and barbecues.


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