Your Health: 10 Ways To Avoid Heartburn at Home
Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux, which is when stomach acid enters the esophagus and causes irritation. Millions of people experience acid reflux. If you experience acid reflux two or more times per week, you may have GERD. GERD can eventually lead to more serious conditions and should be evaluated by a doctor. (Schedule an appointment here)
For occasional heartburn, there are several ways to reduce your chances for acid reflux. Here are 10 ways you can avoid heartburn:
- Avoid Smoking – Saliva helps neutralize stomach acid, but smoking can impact saliva production and the chemical balance. Smoking can also cause a pressure reduction in the muscle that stops stomach acid from entering the esophagus. This muscle is called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, or LES.
- Chew gum or use oral lozenges – These may help increase saliva production which may help clear the esophagus of stomach acid.
- Avoid Fatty Foods – Fatty foods take longer to digest in your stomach and cause additional acid production. You can still enjoy lean meats, fish, poultry, etc.
- Avoid Caffeine – Too much caffeine can relax the LES that keeps stomach acid from entering the esophagus.
- Avoid Chocolate – The acidity in cocoa powder, caffeine content, and ingredients that may cause loosening of the LES make chocolate a triple threat. Many people may not see symptoms from eating chocolate in moderation. Chocolate may be more likely to cause issues when combined with other possible triggers like eating right before bed.
- Avoid Peppermint – Peppermint candies, oil, and teas get much of their distinct flavor from their menthol content. The numbing/soothing effect of menthol can relax the LES and cause acid reflux. Try spearmint as an alternative, which has significantly less menthol content.
- Avoid Overeating – When you’re stomach is overly full, your LES may have trouble closing completely, which could cause acid reflux.
- Avoid Eating Before Bed – Eating while lying down or going to bed soon after eating can increase acid reflux. When upright, your body has gravity’s help to keep stomach acid from entering the esophagus. Lying down makes it easier for stomach acid to flow into the esophagus causing acid reflux. Try to eat two or three hours prior to bedtime.
- Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothes – Tight clothing may cause acid reflux by constricting the stomach and forcing acid into the esophagus. Examples include belts, tight pants, shapewear (e.g. Spanx), or other constraining clothing.
- Avoid Heavy-Lifting – Strenuous exercises that constrain the abdomen, including heavy lifting or stomach crunches, can cause acid reflux. In general, exercise and weight loss are good for controlling GERD and acid reflux. Your doctor can help recommend the best exercise routine for your goals.
If at-home remedies for heartburn or GERD aren’t working, visit one of our physicians for a treatment recommendation.