The Reason You Get Heartburn Right After Swallowing Pills

Every time you get a new medication or grab a prescription at the pharmacy, it comes with a rather long list of side effects. Every drug on the planet has them, but some side effects are worth the risk due to all the good the med can reap for your health. One of those annoying-but-worth-it side effects can be heartburn.

While heartburn might feel like burning and irritation right in the area of your heart, it actually occurs in your esophagus. Certain pills are prone to irritating your esophagus, so the burning begins every time you swallow them. This irritating condition is called pill-induced esophagitis. Some drugs cause a mild case of this condition and clear up when you stop taking the pill. Others, however, cause a severe and persistent burn that can lead to other more serious complications like esophageal ulcers, according to StatPearls (via The National Library of Medicine).

You can cool your burn by learning the reason behind heartburn after taking your pills.

Why you get heartburn after taking certain pills

It never fails. When you pop your morning med, you feel that burning and irritation that has you reaching for the TUMS in your pantry. Pill esophagitis can be painful and downright irritating, but the why behind the burn isn't because of your stomach acid.

The offender of the burning heartburn and irritation is the pill itself. Certain types of medications are too alkaline or acidic for the delicate lining of the esophagus, according to a 2017 article in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. When they accidentally burst open too soon or start to dissolve in the esophagus, they irritate the delicate lining, causing throat pain, heartburn, and chest pain. Common culprits of esophagus irritation are antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Coumadin (warfarin), vitamin C, and certain high blood pressure meds (per Verywell Health).

The esophagus isn't the only area of the body that can get irritated, though. Medicines, like NSAIDs, can also inflame the lining of the stomach leading to that dreaded burning and painful feeling. As the stomach gets inflamed, it can also push acid into the esophagus, worsening the problem. 

Since it's often necessary to take certain medications that can cause irritation, we'll give you a few tips to help you prevent and treat heartburn so this painful condition doesn't take over your life.

Simple ways to prevent and treat heartburn from pills

Talking to your healthcare provider is essential if you're experiencing constant heartburn from your pills. They might be able to switch up your medication. However, some drugs are just necessary, like antibiotics for an infection. Medicines that can't be avoided will take a few special maneuvers to ensure everything goes down perfectly and you feel pain-free.

The leading cause of esophagus irritation is pills getting stuck and starting to work in the esophagus rather than the stomach. So, take your medications with a full glass of water and take one pill at a time. Give your capsule extra time to journey to your stomach by moving around and avoiding lying down for about a half hour. For stomach-irritating NSAIDs, eat food before taking them. John Hopkins Medicine also recommends coated tablets for reducing irritation. It's also beneficial to try ginger tea or supplements to help calm your inflamed stomach and esophagus when heartburn flares up. 

When medication-induced heartburn strikes, it can be a real bummer that typically lasts for as long as you take the medication. It might be short-lived for an antibiotic, but everyday meds like those for blood pressure may need a few prevention techniques to keep your burning at bay. But remember, it's essential to see your doctor rather than ignoring warning signs from your stomach.