Heartburn can be inconvenient, but it can also turn into a serious problem. As someone who has suffered from heartburn for almost 15 years, I can attest to the fact that it can be hard to live with. But, when should you see a doctor? Whether you're having heartburn more frequently or you're losing sleep, it may be time to make an appointment. Here are a few tips to help you know when to see a doctor about heartburn.
The Heartburn is Frequent
If you're experiencing frequent heartburn two or more times per week, you must understand that this is not normal. An occasional bout of heartburn may be the cause of too much spicy or fatty foods. However, those that have a serious problem will experience pain a few times per week. There was a time when I experienced heartburn-related pain daily, day and night. It went on for weeks until it was diagnosed and treated.
Dietary Changes Aren't Working
Sometimes you may just need to change your diet to get relief from heartburn. You can keep a journal and target your trigger foods so that you can avoid them in the future. Unfortunately, there are cases where it doesn't matter what the person eats, they still experience pain. While that was true for me, I also had trigger foods that made things much worse. Trigger foods might include chocolate, mint, citrus, spicy foods, or acidic foods.
OTC Medications Aren't Working
In some cases, frequent heartburn can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as acid reducers. If you find that you're taking more than advised on the package, or that the medication isn't working at all, you need to visit your doctor. Just remember that OTC medications can take a few days or weeks to start working.
You're Losing Sleep
Last, but not least, if your heartburn is to the point that you're losing several hours of sleep each week, you need to consult your doctor. Not only can this make you miserable, but lack of sleep can cause other health issues, such as headaches and a weakened immune system.
Living with heartburn can make a person miserable. The good news is you don't have to go it alone. If you're not able to control your frequent heartburn through dietary changes or OTC medications, it's time to see your doctor.