Heartburn and acid reflux: when to see a gastroenterologist

Heartburn and acid reflux: when to see a doctor

Written by: Dr Aathavan Loganayagam
Published: | Updated: 05/08/2018
Edited by: Laura Burgess

Heartburn has been described as a burning feeling in the chest and is a symptom of acid reflux (GERD). The sensation can feel similar to a heart attack and if a patient goes to the emergency room because of chest pain, tests will be undertaken to rule out heart problems. If there is persistent chest pain then seek immediate medical help.

Heartburn commonly occurs after eating a meal, with some foods and drinks, in particular, making symptoms feel worse. It can also disturb sleep patterns and it typically occurs in pregnant women. But when exactly should you see a doctor about the discomfort or pain? Leading gastroenterologist Dr Aathavan Loganayagam explains just when the symptoms of acid heartburn and acid reflux becomes enough to visit a doctor…

When should I see a specialist about heartburn and acid reflux?

 

  • Your heartburn symptoms have become more severe or frequent
  • You are having difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing, especially with solid foods or pills
  • Your heartburn is causing you to have nausea or vomiting (especially if you are vomiting blood or black material)
  • You've experienced a drastic or unexplained weight loss accompanied by heartburn
  • You have a chronic cough, choking sensation or sense of a lump in your throat
  • You have been using over-the-counter antacid medications for more than two weeks (or for a longer period than recommended on the label), and you still have heartburn symptoms
  • You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription or non-prescription medications
  • You have chronic hoarseness or wheezing, or your asthma has worsened
  • Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities
  • You are having chest pain accompanied by pain in the neck, jaw, arms, or legs; shortness of breath, weakness, irregular pulse, or sweating
  • You have extreme stomach pain
  • You are experiencing diarrhoea or black or bloody bowel movements

By Dr Aathavan Loganayagam
Gastroenterology

Dr Aathavan Loganayagam is a leading London gastroenterologist who trained in medicine at Guy’s, King's and St Thomas’ medical schools. He underwent rigorous structured specialty training in gastroenterology and general internal medicine in the well respected South London training programme.

Dr Loganayagam spent two years during postgraduate training as a research and endoscopy fellow at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, London. His research was in the fields of pharmacogenetics, inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal malignancy.

He has received many awards and grants for outstanding research work, including the prestigious NHS Innovation London Award. Dr Loganayagam has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals on all aspects of gastroenterology. He is actively involved in clinical research.

Currently, Dr Loganayagam is the lead clinician for inflammatory bowel disease and nutrition at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. Diagnostic and advanced therapeutic endoscopy remains a major part of his clinical expertise, including assessment and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, strictures, polyps and cancers.

Dr Loganayagam is an approachable doctor who takes pride in his communication skills with patients and he is keen to ensure that patients are fully informed and involved in all aspects of their care.

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