Heartburn is a sour acidic taste in the mouth and throat and a burning sensation in the chest. It occurs after eating any meal during the day or lying down to rest or sleep. It is unpleasant and disruptive to men and women when working or attending to daily activities. The symptoms often last several minutes to a few hours.
The good news is that heart burn is manageable with lifestyle changes and over the counter medications suggested by your doctor. Heartburn typically happens when food goes down a tube called the esophagus after you eat. When the muscle in the esophagus is weak it does not close properly, which causes stomach acid to splash back up (AKA acid reflux). Heartburn is the way that you feel that acid reflux occurring, and if you’ve had it before then you’ll know that it’s incredibly uncomfortable.
Causes of Heartburn
Certain foods, medications and health conditions can be the cause of heartburn. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, hot peppers, spicy food, fatty food, onions, and candy are usually the biggest culprits. Beverages that are carbonated, acidic drinks and alcohol can also contribute to heartburn, as well as certain medications like aspirin, pain killers, sedatives and some high blood pressure medications. If you smoke, are overweight or pregnant, you may be at risk for chronic heartburn.
Tips For Preventing Heartburn
For patients who are struggling with occasional heartburn, in many cases medication isn’t necessary. A lot of doctors recommend trying heartburn home remedies as a solution for your heartburn woes before an over the counter antacid. In addition to trying these home remedies, it’s important to remember that most cases of heartburn can be solved by simply making some small lifestyle changes. Here are five things that you can do to help prevent heartburn:
1. Plan meals carefully and eat foods that prevent heartburn.
Oatmeal is a good breakfast cereal or snack any time of day because it absorbs the acidity of other foods. Salads are full of vitamins and minerals, which is great, but if you’re opting for a salad then be sure to avoid acidic vegetables like onion and tomato and only add one tablespoon of dressing. As far as fruits go, bananas are a great option for people with heartburn because their ph. level of 5.6 is great for acid reflux. Most melons are also good for minimizing acid reflux. Good sources of protein for heartburn are chicken, turkey, fish, and seafood. Eat green vegetables with meals as a side dish. Be sure to plan smaller meals or have less on your plate during meal times, and try not to eat meals too late at night.
2. Make an effort to drop those extra pounds.
People with excessive weight are often more likely to suffer from heartburn, so do the best you can to maintain a healthy body weight and shed those excess pounds! This means eating lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and healthy oils, and probably putting in some time at the gym. Exercise daily for about 30 minutes walking, doing housework, yard work, biking, swimming, running, or working out at the gym. Choose an exercise that you like so you will stick to it. If you’re going to head out for your exercise, make sure to wait 2 hours to exercise after eating a meal.
3. Write down what you eat and when you get heartburn.
Keeping a heartburn journal is actually incredibly helpful, especially for people who may be suffering from chronic heartburn and will need to seek medical advice. Journaling helps keep track of when and why you’re experience your heartburn, and it can help doctors determine what may be triggering your attacks. After a few weeks you should be able to see what foods cause your heartburn. Write these foods down and avoid eating them in your meals and snacks.
4. Try over the counter medications for heartburn that have been used and tested.
In some cases, simple lifestyle changes aren’t enough to keep you from experiencing heartburn. In those situations, your doctor may recommend that you try an over the counter medication to easy your symptoms. Drugs like antacids work and have been on the market for years. Some of these drugs are Alka Seltzer, Maalox, Di-Gel, and Rolaids.
5. Stay away from the no-nos.
After a meal avoid drinking coffee or tea, smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol. All these items can negatively affect the sphincter muscle in the esophagus and lead to more frequent bouts of acid reflux, and therefore heartburn.
Chronic heartburn is heartburn that you get more than twice a week, and it could be a sign that something is wrong. If you’re experiencing frequent heartburn on a regular basis, you should see a doctor to determine whether there might be something more serious causing it. Often after testing, chronic heartburn can be treated with prescription drugs and some lifestyle changes.
Heartburn sucks, but it’s also something that will most likely affect you at some point in your life. The good news is that both heartburn and chronic heartburn are manageable by making some lifestyle changes and taking medications. You don’t have to suffer from heartburn, there are many solutions to the problem that works successfully.
Written by: Joan Russell