7 Tricks to Kick Your Worst Heartburn
Most everyone experiences heartburn once in a while. You may have experienced it after a large holiday meal or during a stressful time in your life. Occasional heartburn like that is often relieved with over-the-counter antacids and doesn’t occur again.
When heartburn starts to feel like a regular problem, you might be able to pinpoint the cause and put a stop to it before it reaches the point of needing medical care.
Try these tricks to kick your heartburn to the curb.
1) Keep a food journal
Some foods and drinks are common triggers. Every time you have heartburn, write down what you ate that day. You might find a pattern in your heartburn and can avoid trigger foods in the future. The most common culprits are spicy, fatty, or acidic foods like citrus, as well as carbonated, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks.
2) Watch your weight
Extra weight puts more pressure on the organs in your abdomen. As a result, your stomach can be pushed upward, forcing acid to leak up into your esophagus.
3) Check your closet
Tight clothing puts pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscle that acts as a gateway to your stomach. Pressure on the LES can force stomach contents to leak up into your esophagus.
4) Eat less, more often
Large meals stretch your stomach, increasing pressure on the LES. Instead of eating two or three larger meals daily, try eating five or six smaller meals.
5) Manage your stress
Stress has many negative effects on your body, including your digestion. Stress increases acid production and slows digestion. Food stays in the stomach longer, increasing pressure on the stomach and LES. Stress management techniques may help.
Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, or making time for hobbies that relax you.
6) Evaluate your exercise routine
Exercise benefits your entire body and decreases the effects of stress. But certain activities can increase your chances of having heartburn. Activities to avoid include any that put pressure on the abdomen, including leg lifts, and any that can reverse the flow of stomach contents, like handstands and some inverted yoga positions.
7) Adjust your bed
Heartburn frequently happens at night. When you’re lying flat, gravity allows stomach contents to reach the LES. Raising the head of your bed can help keep stomach contents where they belong. Try placing a wedge between the mattress and box spring.
It also helps to avoid lying down for three to four hours after eating.
When To See a Doctor
Occasional heartburn happens to everyone. For many people, avoiding triggers or changing their diet or lifestyle can help prevent it. For many others, heartburn is a chronic problem that needs to be assessed and treated by a doctor to prevent it from causing serious problems.
You should see a doctor about your heartburn if:
- It doesn’t go away
- It happens more and more often, or the symptoms are more severe
- Swallowing is difficult or painful
- Causes vomiting
- You have unexplained weight loss
- You’ve used over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks with no improvement
- You develop wheezing or severe hoarseness
- The heartburn interferes with your day-to-day life
The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you can get relief from the burn.
Don’t live with heartburn any longer – schedule an appointment today!