What Is the Treatment for Heartburn?
For the past few weeks, I've been having heartburn. It doesn't happen every day—but when it does it is mostly at night after dinner. I became worried, and so I searched online for learn about treatments for this uncomfortable condition.
What Does Heartburn Feel Like?
First off, let me just say that heartburn doesn't really have anything to do with the heart. It is a burning sensation you feel in the mid-section of the chest. The sensation is caused by stomach acid rising to the esophagus. This condition is also called acid reflux.
What Causes Heartburn?
The answer to this question is different from one person to another. Millions of people suffer from heartburn and in order to stop heartburn, you need to know the cause for each particular individual.
- Heartburn may be due to an underlying medical concern like ulcer or hernia.
- It may also be because of a problem in the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle around the bottom of the esophagus, may not be opening and closing as it should. Normally, the LES opens to allow food and fluid to go to the stomach and then closes again. When the LES becomes weak, it may allow stomach acid to flow back up to the esophagus resulting in heartburn.
- Most often, heartburn is triggered by the type and amount of food or beverage a person eats.
- Lifesytle habits like smoking and drinking alcohol can weaken and damage the esophagus.
- Too much stress can cause you to feel sick in your stomach because of increased acid production.
- Excess pressure on the stomach, as in pregnant women, can cause the acid to move back up to the esophagus. This is also a common case with overweight persons. So, for some it is advisable to lose some pounds to stop heartburn. Not putting on tight clothing or bending over can also help to avoid heartburn.
- Certain medications can also trigger heartburn including aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and naproxen, and other medications for blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and asthma.
What Can You Do to Stop Heartburn?
Knowing what causes your heartburn is the first step to finding heartburn relief. Here are some advice on what you can do when you experience heartburn:
1. Keep track of the date, time, severity, and length of time of the heartburn.
- If all of your attacks happen at night, then you're probably going to bed too soon after dinner. Lying down right after a meal can cause the acid needed for digestion to end up in the esophagus. Going to bed 2 to 3 hours after eating is recommended to give your stomach time to digest the food you ate.
- If that isn’t the case, perhaps your heartburn has something to do with your position when sleeping. Elevate your head and shoulders by a few inches. Sleeping on your left side or your stomach might also help. You can also try using those special pillows that help elevate your body to the right position.
2. Take note of what you ate. It would help you determine what types of foods are linked to your heartburn.
- Check the foods you noted down and see if you suspect any that triggered your heartburn.
- Eat other foods to see if that would cause heartburn.
Foods That Trigger Heartburn
The most common cause of heartburn is food. Eating too much of these foods can cause heartburn.
- Fried and fatty foods
- Sugar, caffeine, chocolates, and peppermint
- Spicy foods, including raw onions, garlic, black pepper
- Citrus products, including oranges and juices
- Tomato products, such as ketchup
- Alcohol, especially red wine
Foods That Relieve Heartburn
Here are some foods you can take when you're having heartburn to neutralize stomach acids and get relief naturally:
- Apples - eat them fresh with skin or cook them into a compote
- Blanched almonds - chew them well to avoid swallowing air
- Unsalted soda crackers - these contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and cream of tartar, which neutralize acids
- Fresh juices of mango, guava, papaya, pear
- Spices including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and sage - use them to make tea or sprinkle them on your toast
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 1/2 glass water - this works like an antacid but this should not be taken by people on a salt-restricted diet
- Gum - chew some gum for 30 minutes after a meal. This stimulates the production of more saliva, a natural antacid that helps to prevent heartburn.
3. If you're a woman, check if you're pregnant. Heartburn may be due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.
4. Try a few well-known products that help give heartburn relief.
- If your heartburn happens occasionally, keep on hand an over-the-counter product like Gaviscon (an antacid) and take it when you're having heartburn.
- If you're having heartburn several times a week, choose a medication that offsets heartburn even before it kicks in.
5. Consult your doctor.
- If you are not successful in treating your heartburn with these little steps, you may need to consult your doctor. It might be that you have a health issue (i.e. problem with your LES) that needs more medical attention.
If you are experiencing these things in relation to heartburn, consult your doctor:
- Heartburn more than two times per week.
- No relief even after taking over-the-counter medications.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Persistent vomiting or nausea.
- Poor appetite and weight loss.
Don't let your condition of heartburn or acid reflux go unattended for long. If you do not get treatment or relief, you could end up getting a damaged esophagus that require surgery.
Additional Notes to Remember
- Avoid overeating and you won't have to worry that much about triggering heartburn. Don't skip meals and consider eating 5 to 6 small meals a day.
- Don't exercise after eating. Wait at least two hours before doing any workout.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing or bending over to avoid heartburn.
- Practice deep breathing. This has worked wonders in avoiding heartburn for many people.
Just keep in mind all the tips mentioned in this article to get relief from heartburn or prevent heartburn. I've had positive results just by watching and controlling what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat. Cheers to better health.
- Heartburn Causes - Mayo Clinic
Heartburn — Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, causes, treatment of this common digestive condition.
- Common Heartburn Triggers: Fatty Foods, Alcohol, Citrus, and More
WebMD examines the common triggers of heartburn flare-ups, including exercising, taking certain medications, and eating large meals.
- 14 Home Remedies for Heartburn | HowStuffWorks
Heartburn, or acid reflux, hits when stomach acids escape into your esophagus. Learn about home remedies that will quench the flames of heartburn.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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