The 5 Best Ways to Get Rid of Heartburn
Heartburn is a common condition that can be painful and frustrating. Occasional heartburn is often manageable with lifestyle changes and non-prescription medication.
Here are 5 of the best ways to get rid of heartburn.
1. Develop good eating habits
Certain foods are triggers for heartburn. It is best to avoid these foods, especially if a specific food has previously caused heartburn. Some problematic foods include:
- Citrus fruits like oranges
- High-fat foods like fried foods
- Tomatoes or tomato-based products
- Beverages containing alcohol
- Citrus juices, like lemon juices
- Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea
- Carbonated beverages like soda
The timing of your eating and the volume of your meals makes a difference too. If you eat too close to bedtime or lay down on the couch right after eating, you are more likely to experience reflux. It’s best to stay upright for 2-3 hours after a meal.
It’s also better to have smaller meals more frequently, instead of just a few large meals. When there is a larger volume of food in your stomach, the pressure can cause the acidic contents to leak back into your esophagus.
2. Try to lose weight
Being overweight has been linked to an increased risk of heartburn. Maintaining a healthy weight relieves abdominal pressure. Pressure on the abdomen may cause stomach acid to back up and reflux into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Losing weight can be a challenge, but there are many resources available to help.
3. Make some simple lifestyle changes
Certain lifestyle changes can help you prevent heartburn. Tight clothing or exercise that puts pressure on the abdomen can lead to heartburn. This can be avoided by wearing loose clothing and changing your exercise regimen.
Exercising right after eating can cause symptoms, so waiting about 2 hours before a workout can help. Staying well hydrated will also aid digestion.
Another simple change is to elevate the head of your bed. This decreases the chance of getting heartburn at night since gravity keeps the stomach contents where they belong. To accomplish this, it is best to insert a wedge between the mattress and box spring or bed frame. Adding additional pillows may not be effective, but using an inclined wedge pillow is another good option.
4. Stop smoking and drinking
Both smoking and alcohol increase heartburn by lowering the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is the valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach. When it’s working correctly, it allows food to enter the stomach and prevents stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. But smoking and drinking may cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing stomach acid to reflux.
5. Try over-the-counter (OTC) medications
OTC medications may help with heartburn. These medications include antacids and acid blockers such as H2-blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPI).
- Antacids such as Pepto-Bismol and calcium carbonate neutralize stomach acid providing quick relief of the heartburn symptoms.
- H2-blockers such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and famotidine (Pepcid) reduce the production of stomach acid, providing more extended relief.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and esomeprazole (Nexium) reduce stomach acid production with longer heartburn relief.
If you are experiencing heartburn more than twice weekly and OTC medications aren’t helping, it’s time to see a doctor. You may need more potent doses of antacids, which require a prescription. You may also need testing to determine the cause of your heartburn.
Many times, the above tips are enough to get rid of heartburn. But frequent or persistent heartburn may have underlying causes or may lead to other problems. If that’s the case, enlisting the help of a gastroenterologist is the best option.
Stop being bothered by persistent heartburn symptoms – schedule an appointment today!