Heartburn is a common symptom that many people suffer from. On this page we go through the underlying causes and symptoms of heartburn, and provide tips on effective treatment so that you can be symptom free.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest or throat caused by stomach acid leaking into the oesophagus and eating into the mucous membranes there. Sometimes the feeling of stomach acid bubbling up the oesophagus can be experienced.
Heartburn is also known as reflux, GERD or a gastric hernia.
Why does one get heartburn?
That stomach acid leaks up into the oesophagus is due to a weakness in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle that controls the position of the stomach, and thereby the entrance to the stomach. The weakening that causes heartburn is called a hiatus hernia.
Symptoms of heartburn
If you have a burning sensation in the throat or chest you have heartburn. Heartburn is a common occurrence in the western world and is due to a weakened diaphragm.
But did you know that you can have other symptoms that are also due to the same basic problem – a hiatus hernia? Common symptoms connected with heartburn include:
- sore throat
- dry cough
- lump in the throat
- thick phlegm
- bubbly saliva
Neither is it uncommon to suffer from bad breath when you have heartburn. You may also notice that your voice changes. You may not be able to hit the same notes as before or your voice becomes unclear and hoarse.
Another symptom of heartburn is a deterioration in oral health. This is because stomach acid can rot teeth and affect the mouth’s mucous membranes.
Heartburn can be experienced infrequently, or come and go often. Some people experience heartburn several times a day, others have symptoms that come and go, with long periods without symptoms in-between.
If the background cause of the discomfort is not treated, the symptoms get worse over time and occur more frequently.
What does heartburn feel like?
Heartburn feels like a burning, stinging pain in the chest or throat. The burning feeling can also radiate backwards towards the back.
Heartburn is a very common problem affecting two in ten people in the western world. But thanks to IQoro, a simple and effective treatment is now available to prevent heartburn.
The treatment has been developed through evidence-based research and the effects have been demonstrated in internationally published and reviewed studies.
IQoro is available to UK prescribers from May 1st 2022. It was previously recognised by NICE for treatment of dysphagia, and Hiatal hernia. Read more on their website.
Strengthened muscles provide natural treatment
IQoro treats heartburn naturally through high-intensity activation of the diaphragm and a further 147 muscles that are involved in the swallowing process, from the lips and pharynx, down to the oesophagus and diaphragm.
Through regular training with IQoro the musculature in the diaphragm becomes stronger. Thus reducing instances of heartburnoch andra symtom på diafragmabråck successivt.
Simple and long-term treatment of heartburn
Treatment with IQoro is easy and can be performed effortlessly. You simply place the IQoro device between your teeth and lips and pull outwards while holding the device with your lips. Pull for ten seconds. Then take a breath and repeat twice more.
For optimum results, perform the treatment three times a day. We usually recommend performing the training procedure at breakfast, lunch and dinner times or even when brushing your teeth, and once more during the day.
The only difficulty with IQoro is finding the ideal daily routine because it takes several months to strengthen weakened muscles.
When you no longer experience any symptoms, it is important to continue with regular concurrent training to retain the strength in the muscles. However, you may not have to continue training three times a day. Experiment and reduce the number of training sessions per week to a level where you no longer experience the symptoms.
Proven results in studies and customer surveys
The effects of treatment with IQoro have been studied at Swedish universities. The results can be read in internationally published and reviewed studies in international medical journals.
Treatment with IQoro is also recommended by British institute, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and it is available to UK prescribers from May 1st 2022.
During studies of IQoro, at least 97 percent of participants suffering from heartburn or reflux improved after 6-8 months treatment, and the majority of the participants were cured of their symptoms and were able to stop using heartburn medication, despite longstanding problems.
These results are confirmed by our latest customer survey of more than 4,400 customers. 75 percent of the customers surveyed reduced or stopped the use of medication within five months of starting treatment with IQoro. This is despite the fact that a treatment period of at least 6-8 months, sometimes longer, is recommended to be symptom free.
How quickly will I get better?
Many people notice a change in the body after only a couple of weeks or a month.
Seeing results can take different lengths of time depending on how long you have had heartburn, how weakened your muscles are and how strict you are with your daily training regime.
The recommended treatment time for IQoro for treating heartburn is at least six months, with the objective of experiencing no symptoms at all. But according to our customer surveys nearly half of our customers experience positive results after 4-8 weeks of treatment.
Once you are rid of heartburn, it is important to continue training with IQoro concurrently to avoid the muscles becoming weak again and the heartburn returning.
If you are taking prescription medication for your heartburn, it is important that you do not reduce the dose or stop completely without consulting your healthcare provider.
Who can use IQoro to treat heartburn?
Anyone can use IQoro to treat heartburn – children, young people, adults and the elderly. Research has shown that treatment results are the same regardless of gender, age, weight, and regardless of how long you have been a sufferer.
The treatment is also suitable for those of you who are happy with the effects of acid suppression medications, but also want to treat the basic problem and successively reduce the medication, for your health and the sake of the environment.
Some diagnoses and conditions may require that you begin the treatment cautiously, or even not at all. Find out more about when not to use IQoro, or contact our customer service for answers to any questions here.
Can I swap medication for IQoro?
If you take acid inhibiting medications to prevent heartburn it is a good idea to continue with the medication in parallel with IQoro for a period until the muscles have got stronger, and then phase the medication out slowly.
Always talk to your doctor before phasing out prescribed medication.
How does IQoro work so well against heartburn?
When you use IQoro the nerves in your lips, oral cavity and pharynx are stimulated. These nerves send signals up to the brain, which in turn activates the muscles inside the body that you cannot consciously control. For example, muscles in the oesophagus as well as the diaphragm are activated.
And, just as your legs get stronger by walking up stairs regularly, the diaphragm gets stronger by it being activated regularly.
When the diaphragm gets stronger it can control the position of the stomach. The stronger the diaphragm becomes, the more often the stomach is correctly positioned, under the diaphragm, and the less stomach acid can leak up into your oesophagus.
This leads to a reduction in your heartburn symptoms, until you have entirely treated the root cause of your discomfort.
You may have searched high and low to find the best way to reduce symptoms of heartburn? Perhaps you tried everything from avoiding certain foods to acid suppressing medication as well as home remedies.
What helps against heartburn?
There are four different ways to relieve symptoms of heartburn.
- Neuromuscular training
- Medication for heartburn
- Home remedies
- Lifestyle changes
1. Neuromuscular training
As you can read above, IQoro is a long-term solution against heartburn.
This is called neuromuscular training and means that by using the nerves in the mouth you train up the internal muscles to relieve symptoms and treat the root cause of many different complaints, including heartburn.
The difference between training with IQoro and other symptom relief is that IQoro treats the root cause, while other approaches provide temporary relief.
2. Medication for heartburn
Acid-suppressing medications, also known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI), are a common method to try to relieve heartburn. But because of the side effects and an increased risk of several serious illnesses, heartburn medication should only be used for temporary problems and not for extended periods.
Stopping using medication can be easier said than done if you suffer significant discomfort from heartburn. Therefore, you should start by strengthening your diaphragm, so that you avoid the pain and discomfort when reducing medication.
When the treatment with IQoro then starts giving results, it is important to reduce the dosage slowly in consultation with your healthcare professional. Otherwise, reducing too fast can cause a rebound effect.
Doesn’t treat the root cause of the discomfort
It is important to remember that medication for heartburn does not treat the root cause of the problem. Acid-suppressing medications (PPIs) only weaken the corrosive aspects of the stomach acid for as long as you take the medication.
The stomach acid continues to leak up even when you take acid-suppressing medication, it is just weaker and less corrosive and so you don’t feel it so much. When you stop taking the medication the diaphragm is still weakened and the heartburn will return sooner or later.
Over-the-counter medication for heartburn
Over-the-counter medication for heartburn is also available. These only treat the symptoms and not the root cause of the heartburn.
3. Home remedies
There are, of course, lots of home remedies for heartburn. Most of them are completely harmless if used with common sense.
If you have a home remedy that you think works for you continue with it while waiting for the treatment using IQoro to give results. But home remedies for heartburn cannot be recommended from a scientific perspective.
Some people relieve heartburn with cider vinegar, others drink camomile tea, eat ginger, turmeric or ripe kiwifruit.
The same applies to home remedies as to other symptom relief. It may feel better temporarily but will not strengthen the muscles of the diaphragm.
4. Lifestyle changes
When one has heartburn it is usual for lifestyle changes to be recommended to reduce symptoms. These can include:
- stop lifting heavy objects
- lose weight
- avoid greasy food, coffee and strong spices
- reduce alcohol consumption
- raise the head end of the bed
- sleep lying on the left hand side
This type of symptom relief can reduce the discomfort of heartburn, but does not train up the weakened internal muscles.
It is fine to change your lifestyle to relieve long-term heartburn. But not being able to eat your favourite foods, lift heavy weights in the gym or have a glass of wine with your friends is a boring consequence of lifestyle changes.
If you adapt your life to heartburn it is easy to forget the root cause is still there. So you risk having weakened muscles for many years. That is why it is important to find a long-term solution and to strengthen the weakened muscles as soon as possible instead.
Causes of heartburn
Heartburn is due to you having a hiatus hernia.
This means that the muscles of the diaphragm are weakened and are no longer able to hold the stomach in position. When this happens the stomach cannot seal. Stomach acid can then leak up into the oesophagus and throat and irritate the mucous membranes.
The diaphragm’s function
The diaphragm is a thin powerful muscle found under the chest. It separates the torso into two halves. The upper half contains, for example, the lungs, heart and oesophagus and the lower half contains the stomach and intestines.
In the middle of the diaphragm is a hole that allows the oesophagus to pass through to reach the stomach. This hole is called the esophageal hiatus.
The diaphragm works with 147 other muscles higher up in the swallowing process to be able to swallow food and drink. When the diaphragm is weakened it is also common for more muscles in the swallowing process to be weak, which in time can lead to more symptoms of hiatus hernia.
The diaphragm should hold the stomach in position
In someone without a hiatus hernia, the stomach lies below the diaphragm all the time, except when one needs to vomit or burp. When the stomach is below the diaphragm the oesophagus acts like a trapdoor, where food and drink can fall through but not come up again.
When we need to vomit or burp the diaphragm can temporarily allow parts of the stomach through the esophageal hiatus. The oesophagus can then open and release the contents that need to come up.
The diaphragm then ensures that the stomach slides back into its normal position.
But when the diaphragm is weakened additional pressure against the stomach is enough for the upper section of the stomach to slide up above the diaphragm.
The stomach acid can then leak into the oesophagus uncontrollably. And because stomach acid is very strong it is corrosive to the mucous membranes in the oesophagus and causes pain and discomfort in the form of heartburn.
The oesophagus defends itself against the strong stomach acid by creating a thick protective phlegm, which can cause other symptoms of hiatus hernia – such as thick phlegmy saliva that is hard to swallow and continuous throat clearing.
If the stomach acid runs over the airways it can affect your voice, which becomes hoarse and leads to a dry cough that won’t go away.
Who gets heartburn?
Heartburn and reflux are very common problems that affect everyone, from small children to older adults. Most people who have heartburn are otherwise completely healthy and don’t have any other problems.
Science has not yet proven why so many people suffer from hiatus hernia and thus acid reflux. We do know that heartburn is common in people who:
- are overweight
- are pregnant
- snore or have sleep apnoea
- lift heavy weights for work or at the gym
- eat liquid foods for a long period
- are not physically active
- get muscle weakness with old age
- have reduced muscle function due to illness
Although the root cause of heartburn is a weakened diaphragm it doesn’t mean that only people who are out of shape get these symptoms.
On the contrary, it is not uncommon to get heartburn after a good gym workout due to increased abdominal pressure. Of course, one can get the same feeling lifting a heavy shopping bag or otherwise making an effort.
Neither is it uncommon that several people of the same family suffer heartburn because both lifestyle and environment are influencing factors.
That people have problems with weakened muscles in conjunction with aging is no secret either. It is perfectly okay to train with IQoro your whole life.
Elderly people and people with disabilities can train with assistance if their ability to hold IQoro or to close their lips is impaired in any way.
Heartburn at night
It is common to experience heartburn at night. This is because the stomach presses down against the diaphragm when we lie down.
The increased pressure makes it easier for the stomach to slide up through the hole in the diaphragm and release stomach acid into the oesophagus.
By training with IQoro the diaphragm becomes stronger even while you sleep and over time heartburn can be avoided at night.
Heartburn and stress
Some people experience a connection between heartburn and stress. Even if there is no scientific evidence to support the fact that stress affects heartburn, stress does activate our neural system. This in turn affects our different physical symptoms.
Common physical symptoms of stress include, for example, body tension, increased heartbeat, nausea, pain, and stomach issues.
Whether one suffers from heartburn or not, negative stress is not healthy over a long period of time, therefore it is always good to find ways to reduce stress.
Heartburn and pregnancy?
During pregnancy, more pressure is put onto the diaphragm from below as the foetus takes up more and more space in the stomach. It is therefore not uncommon for people who otherwise don’t suffer from heartburn to still suffer from it during pregnancy.
For someone who suffers from heartburn prior to pregnancy, it can be even harder for a weakened diaphragm to hold the stomach in position. The risk of suffering from heartburn and experiencing other symptoms of reflux thus increases.
A large foetus that pushes from below can also lead to a weakened diaphragm over time. This could explain why women suffer from heartburn after a pregnancy.
Studies regarding IQoro and pregnancy have yet to be carried out, but there is no risk involved in training with IQoro during pregnancy.
Pregnant customers have stated that they have used IQoro for heartburn relief instead of over-the-counter medication with good results. If the problem persists after giving birth simply continue the treatment.
Is your heartburn due to a hiatus hernia?
Yes. Heartburn is due to stomach acid leaking up into the oesophagus. This in turn depends on whether you have a weakened diaphragm that cannot properly hold the stomach in place.
If you have had to have a gastroscopy you may have been told that a hiatus hernia could not be detected.
If so, it is useful to know that it is hard to detect a hiatus hernia during a gastroscopy. If the stomach is not exposed to pressure at just the right moment of the gastroscopy it is possible that the stomach was in the right place at the time.
It is also not possible to see how strong muscles are using a camera. A gastroscopy is performed to rule out changes to cells, Barrett’s syndrome and other diagnoses.
Acid suppressing medication is an indirect diagnosis
If you have received a prescription for acid suppressing medication from your doctor it is an indirect diagnosis for you having a hiatus hernia.
Doing a three minute self-test online reveals whether your heartburn is due to a hiatus hernia.
Suffering from heartburn is very common and in most cases harmless if it occurs occasionally. But if you have severe pain, suffer from long term heartburn or are worried about symptoms you should seek medical attention.
When should I seek medical attention for heartburn?
Always seek medical attention for heartburn if you have significant pain. A doctor can then rule out other serious illnesses.
Because treatment with IQoro does not have any negative side effects you can start training to strengthen your muscles immediately, while waiting to see a doctor.
Always contact a health centre if your symptoms suddenly worsen. If you have heartburn together with black stools, or vomit something that looks like coffee grounds, you should see a doctor or go to the emergency room right away.
Examinations and investigations
When you seek medical attention for heartburn you will probably be examined by a doctor at your local health centre. During the visit you will be asked to describe the discomfort. It is a good idea to consider in advance how often and when you get heartburn and how long you have had the problem.
Try our self-test to see if your heartburn is due to a hiatus hernia before you visit the health centre. It is free and completely anonymous, and can give you a good basis for your doctor’s appointment.
Gastroscopy or operation?
In some cases, a doctor may want to carry out a gastroscopy. You will be referred to a clinic for the gastroscopy at a later time.
In severe cases of hiatus hernias where no other treatment is appropriate it may be necessary to carry out a reflux operation. The stomach is then stitched into place below the diaphragm.
A reflux operation must be regarded as the last resort because it makes it impossible to either burp or vomit without hospital treatment. Serious pain must also be a symptom for an operation to be the solution.
Even if you are planning an operation to be rid of heartburn, it is always possible to train with IQoro before the operation.
- Läkemedelsvärlden (2011), PPIs are linked to serious side effects, https://www.lakemedelsvarlden.se/ppi-kopplas-till-allvarliga-biverkningar/ Retrieved 26/10/2018 at 14:24
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