How Long Does An Episode Of Acid Reflux Last?

Oct 15, 2023

That painful burning sensation in your chest is called heartburn, which results from acid reflux and can be quite uncomfortable. However, since it is quite common among people, extensive research has been done on it. If you have questions like, “How long does acid reflux last?” or, “How can I treat my heartburn?” This blog is a perfect piece of reading for you.

The Truth Behind Acid Reflux

In a healthy digestive system, a valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), present at the bottom of your esophagus acts as a gatekeeper. Its primary function is to let food into your stomach and then close it to prevent stomach acid from coming back up. However, in individuals, this valve relaxes and malfunctions, allowing stomach acid to flow into your esophagus, causing acid reflux and heartburn.

How Long Does Heartburn Last?

Now, let’s address the burning question: how long does heartburn from acid reflux last? Usually, the duration varies from one person to another. For some, the reflux might just be a few minutes, and for others, it can linger for hours. The heartburn symptoms usually subside once the food causing it digests. This entire process takes between 2 to 5 hours for your stomach and small intestine to process the food.

Managing Heartburn With Medications

If you are dealing with occasional heartburn, here is what you can use to find relief:

  1. Antacids: Products like Maalox, Rolaids, and Tums quickly relieve stress by neutralizing stomach acids.
  2. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): Medications like lansoprazole, omeprazole, and esomeprazole reduce acid production in your stomach.
  3. H2 Acid Blockers: Options including cimetidine and famotidine reduce stomach acid production as well.

If OTC (over-the-counter) remedies do not do the trick, it is time to see your doctor. They might prescribe stronger medications tailored to your specific needs.

Lifestyle Changes for Heartburn Prevention

  1. Diet: Avoid foods that are spicy, fried, and acidic in nature. Other than that, eating smaller meals can also help a great deal.
  2. Eating Time: Make it a habit to not eat within 3 hours of bedtime, and prop your head off your bed by 6 inches. This prevents stomach acid from flowing back into your esophagus during the night.
  3. Habits: If you smoke, it is time to call it quits. Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption is also a good idea.
  4. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the frequency of heartburn.
  5. Clothing: Loose-fitting clothes can put less pressure on your abdomen, reducing the risk of heartburn.

When to Seek Professional Help

It is easy to manage occasional heartburn with the help of over-the-counter remedies and a few lifestyle changes. However, if you have GERD and symptoms show up more than twice a week or remain uncontrolled, it is time to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide prescription medications and run tests to determine the underlying cause of your case and suggest treatment accordingly.

Closing Note

In a nutshell, acid reflux is not dangerous, but frequently getting heartburn can mean you have a chronic condition known as GERD. Pay attention to what you consume on a daily basis to prevent acid reflux symptoms from getting worse. For more information, get in touch with Dr. Mustafa H. Alibhai a board-certified general surgeon who served as Assistant Professor of Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UT Health in Houston, at Nova Bariatrics (469) 639-0953. You can also visit us for a physical checkup at 1081 Kinwest Pkwy STE 110, Irving, TX 75063, United States.

Dr. Mustafa H. Alibhai

Dr. Alibhai, a board-certified general surgeon, passionately leads Nova Bariatrics and Minimally Invasive Surgery. Formerly an Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, he’s a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons. His academic journey includes a Bachelor’s from Southern Methodist University, Medical School at UT Southwestern, and residencies at UT Southwestern. Specializing further, he completed Bariatric and Robotic Fellowships, advancing surgical techniques with a focus on patient well-being.

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