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Can Heartburn Medication Cause Swelling in Legs?

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux is caused by excess acid in the stomach. The acid causes a warm and burning sensation in the stomach and esophagus which may reach the mouth thus cause a burning sensation in the throat and an acid taste in the mouth. The symptoms vary from person to person but one of the most common is pain in the sternum, the front and center of our chests where our ribs meet.



swelling in the legs caused by heartburn medicationIt can be described as pain felt in the chest, but it has nothing to do with the heart, the sensation is caused when the acid is forced backward into the the esophagus, throat, and mouth resulting in the burning pain in the chest.  

A telltale sign of the symptom is pressure in the chest area which makes it difficult to breath and move. Other symptoms of heartburn include shortness of breath, slight dizziness, bloating, uncontrollable belching and farting, difficulty moving and experiencing pain after staying in one position for a long period of time. Some of the less common symptoms are cold sweat and difficulty swallowing. 


Swelling of the legs is not among the listed symptoms nor is the swelling of any other extremity. However, swelling of the legs, ankles, wrists and other extremities are common side effects of having taken too much antacid, a very common medication for reflux. Antacids have various types but most are made up of components that are known to sometimes result in swelling of different body parts. Sodium bicarbonate based, aluminium based, Proton Pump Inhibitors and H2 receptor antagonists are all types of antacids that may have the side effects of swelling. On the other hand, calcium based and magnesium based antacids do not have records of having swelling as side effect. 


There are a number of causes starting from over eating, fatty foods, too much caffeine and alcohol. Heartburn may also be caused by prescription medications including heart and blood pressure medications. There are also some medical conditions which may be the cause for heartburn, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. The cause of heartburn may even be as simple as putting pressure on the stomach which may force the stomach acid backward into the esophagus. Heartburn is also common in pregnant women. 


Usually, heartburn occurs 30-60 minutes after a meal which is why straining, bending over or lying down with a full stomach may trigger the stomach acid into the esophagus. 


If untreated for longer periods, indigestion may cause the symptom, which is why most people think that heartburn and indigestion are one and the same. Indigestion may be treated with diuretics and nausea medications. However, if heartburn and indigestion together persist for days, it is highly advisable to go see a doctor. 


Acid reflux which causes stomach acid up into the esophagus and mouth may damage the lining of the esophagus which, unlike the stomach, does not have a lining that protects it from the acid. Difficulty in swallowing may then be experienced and in severe cases, although uncommon, when the esophagus is badly damaged, may result in dehydration, weight loss and may even cause the esophagus to bleed. Acid reflux may also damage the teeth as the acid eats up tooth enamel. Short term effects of acid reflux include sore throat, chronic cough and even affect the respiratory tract causing asthma. 


As heartburn isn’t itself a serious condition, it is commonly treated with extra amounts of water and antacids which are conveniently bought over the counter. Although for severe symptoms, prescription medication may be needed to relieve the pain and if experienced frequently, simple changes in diet and exercise may be necessary. 


Experiencing heartburn constantly may be a symptom of a more serious condition called gastroesophageal reflux or GERD and may lead to ulcers, seeking a physician’s help is necessary to prevent what may be a simple heartburn from resulting in more serious conditions. 


Heartburn medication such as aspirin may cause swelling in the legs but swollen legs is not directly attributed to this symptom so it is advisable to see a doctor as there may be a more serious cause for the swelling.