How to Handle Heartburn
Heartburn, that burning sensation behind your breastbone, typically occurs just after a meal. It’s usually not serious or life threatening, although frequent heartburn can interfere with your daily activities, inhibit your productivity and could lead to health complications.
But if you understand the causes of heartburn, you can take steps to minimize it or possibly eliminate it from your life. Here’s information to help you understand and handle the ailment.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
When everything is functioning as it should, a muscle at the lower end of your esophagus opens when you swallow, allowing food to pass into your stomach. But when that muscle relaxes at the wrong time or is weak, liquid from your stomach will come back up, or reflux, into your esophagus, and that’s what creates heartburn. Heartburn is actually the symptom of gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux.
Other symptoms of acid reflux may include persistent sore throat, hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, chest pain and a feeling of a lump in the throat.
If acid reflux is a chronic problem, it can lead to trouble swallowing, esophageal bleeding or ulcers, and even an increased risk of developing cancer in the cells at the bottom of the esophagus.
It’s important to talk with your doctor if you experience persistent heartburn. There are a variety of ways your doctor may be able to help you.
Tips to Reduce Reflux and Heartburn
To reduce reflux and heartburn, try some of these tips and see which ones work for you:
- Don’t lie down right after you eat.
- Elevate the head of your bed four to six inches.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Stop smoking.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than large meals.
- Avoid consuming chocolate, coffee, alcohol, fried food, fatty foods, peppermint, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits or juices, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, aspirin, and most pain medicines (other than acetaminophen).
You may also find that relaxing helps relieve your heartburn symptoms, even though stress is not a proven cause of acid reflux, according to the National Heartburn Alliance. Stress can make you more aware of your heartburn symptoms, and it may cause you to engage in behaviors that trigger heartburn.
health.harvard.edu, familydoctor.org, aboutgerd.org, niddk.nih.gov