What to Do When Viagra Gives You Heartburn
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There’s nothing quite like that uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest after lying down following a particularly spicy meal. Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is just one of the unpleasant symptoms of dyspepsia — a fancy word for indigestion.
Indigestion also happens to be one of the side effects of Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and other erectile dysfunction medicines like Cialis and Levitra. Uncomfortable as it may be, it can be overcome. Here are some quick facts about why Viagra can cause heartburn and indigestion, and what you can do about it.
Why Does Viagra Cause Heartburn?
Viagra, and other PDE5 inhibitors like Cialis and Levitra produce effects on smooth muscle tissue in your body. When Viagra starts to take action, muscle tissue and blood vessels in your penis begin to relax, allowing for increased blood flow that, in combination with sexual stimulation, can lead to increased erectile function — that’s the good news.
However the active ingredients in PDE5 inhibitors can also impact the muscles in your esophagus, including the sphincter that acts as the barrier between your stomach and esophagus. When this occurs, the chances of stomach acid splashing up and causing heartburn increase. This is especially true if you’re already prone to heartburn. Viagra can also cause mild nausea and minor stomach discomfort.
How to Limit Heartburn
If you’re already among the 25 percent of Canadians who experience indigestion and heartburn, you’ll be all too familiar with antacid medicines to overcome it.
Heartburn Specific Medication
Common over-the-counter antacids that neutralize stomach acid like Tums, Rolaids and Maalox are affordable and can offer relief from heartburn and indigestion in a few short minutes. They come in many forms, ranging from chalky and chewy tablets, to smooth and cooling liquids. Another class of anti-heartburn medicine works to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. These “H2-blockers” are sold under familiar brand names like Zantac and Pepcid.
For more severe cases of heartburn and indigestion, your doctor may prescribe a prescription-strength H2 blocker or a drug from another class of medicines known as proton pump inhibitors. If you’re experiencing persistent heartburn that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter medicine, talk to your doctor.
Food and Drink
There are also non-medicinal ways to limit heartburn that can be just as effective. A standard glass or two of water can help alleviate the burning that comes with heartburn. Consider taking Viagra with a glass of water or milk to help the medicine ease more seamlessly into your system. And do the same afterwards if you experience indigestion and heartburn. Some foods like bananas, yogurt, oatmeal can also help to neutralize stomach acid and limit discomfort.
You should also avoid consuming too much alcohol after taking Viagra, as that can lead to a further upsetting of the stomach. Acidic juices like orange and grapefruit, and caffeinated coffee can also upset your stomach, with or without Viagra.
Lower Your Dosage
Erectile dysfunction medications are available in a wide-range of doses, from 2.5 mg for Cialis all the way to 100mg for Viagra. If you’re taking a higher-dose of medication, lowering it might help stave off side effects. You should also never take more than one dose per 24 hours. Tell your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the common side effects of Viagra, Cialis or Levitra.
Since lying down often makes heartburn worse, try to give yourself at least 2-3 hours between a meal and bedtime. If you’re planning on spending a night on the couch, do it in a seated position. Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight might also help you out in the heartburn department. You could also consider eating smaller portions or eliminating foods that commonly make heartburn symptoms worse, like fatty foods, chocolate, onions and peppermint.
Talk To Your Doctor
Heartburn and other mild side effects shouldn’t prevent men from seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). If a doctor has decided ED medications like Viagra are appropriate, make sure to tell them about any side effects you’re currently experiencing. Adjusting the dosage, changes to diet and lifestyle, or looking at medicinal options for addressing side effects might make a difference. There are plenty of treatment options available to improve erectile function, and a little indigestion doesn’t have to stand in your way.