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6 Heartburn Mistakes Everyone Makes

Heartburn Mistakes

Most people have experienced occasional heartburn and successfully treated it with over-the-counter medications. For many others, it’s a stubborn problem that keeps coming back, and they don’t know why. Although the exact causes of heartburn differ from person to person, some common factors may trigger your heartburn. Here are six heartburn mistakes everyone makes.

1. Fighting gravity

The story is that Isaac Newton developed his theory of gravity after watching an apple fall straight down from a tree branch. Now imagine that apple in your stomach along with everything else you ate today. When you’re standing or sitting upright, gravity helps keep your stomach contents in your stomach where they belong.

When you lay down or recline after a large meal, gravity helps that food move toward your esophagus. Staying upright for two to three hours after eating helps keep your stomach contents from sloshing up into your esophagus, where it causes heartburn.

2. Overeating

If you’ve ever overfilled a bowl, you know where the excess food or liquid will end up if you’re not careful: outside the container. Likewise, when your stomach is overly full, it’s more likely that some stomach contents will get pushed up into your esophagus.

Instead of eating three larger meals every day, try eating five to six smaller meals spaced two to three hours apart.

3. Carrying extra weight

Extra pounds create pressure on your abdomen, slow the movement of food through your digestive system, and loosen the band of muscles that squeeze shut to keep food in your stomach. This group of muscles is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and acts as a gatekeeper between your esophagus and stomach. The larger your stomach grows, the more pressure you put on the LES.

Think of it like blowing up a balloon. The “neck” portion is put under pressure and pulled into the body of the balloon as the balloon becomes overfilled. This type of stretching can cause irreversible damage to the LES.

4. Drinking too much alcohol

It can be easy to overlook drinks as triggers for heartburn. Because they don’t have bulk, we tend to underestimate their impact on our health when thinking about calories or nutritional value. And because liquids are easier to digest than solids, they pass through your digestive system undetected.

Alcohol can contribute to heartburn in several ways. It can irritate the esophagus, prompt excess stomach acid production, and relax the muscles around the stomach. Drinking too much at one time can also affect your judgment when making food choices.

5. Not knowing your food triggers

Some common heartburn triggers are linked to high-fat foods, citrus juices, spicy foods, onions, sodas, and other carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, tomato sauces, and garlic. You might have symptoms after eating some, all, or none of those foods.

Although there are common foods that may cause heartburn, everybody is different, and your trigger foods might be different too. Keeping a food diary is a great way to track your symptoms and narrow down the foods that irritate you most. Then you can make a plan to avoid them or substitute other foods in their place.

6. Ignoring the burn

The biggest mistake people make with heartburn is ignoring the burn. Over-the-counter antacids may relieve your symptoms, but if they keep coming back, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. Taking antacids for too long can cause other symptoms and aggravate your heartburn in the long run.

Take control of your heartburn

If you’re taking antacids and your symptoms don’t improve, or if your symptoms disrupt your sleep or interfere with your daily life, you should schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. Proper care can control your symptoms better and prevent complications.

Learn about treatment options for your chronic heartburn – schedule an appointment today!

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