There is no doubting that heartburn has the potential to be a major problem for many who experience it. It is uncomfortable, distressing, and it can lead to your having to adapt your routines to get through the day. It can mean you cancel events, and limit your social life, and that you are less productive or happy at work. It is, in short, a nuisance, and also a worry if it happens a lot.
Below, we look at how to identify heartburn, respond to it, and limit the chance of suffering from it again. Be reassured! There are plenty of ways of limiting its impact and its presence in your life.
What is Heartburn
Heartburn can be caused by overeating, eating spicy foods, or even by lying down in certain positions. But heartburn can also be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD?
This may sound like a mouthful, and in fact GERD can indeed be caused by overeating! But if you suffer from it, it is no joke.
If you experience heartburn on a regular basis, it’s always best to talk to your doctor. They can provide advice on how to get rid of heartburn and help you avoid any further complications.
You may also want to record when you experience heartburn and work out if there are any repeat patterns. Quite often you will find that there is a dietary stimulus that has caused it. By tracking your diet over time, you will be able to assess and identify potential trigger foods.
Characteristics of heartburn
Heartburn is typically characterized by a burning pain in the chest that rises up into the throat and that leaves a sour or bitter taste in the mouth.
If you have ever experienced such a set of feelings, this is indeed probably heartburn. It’s usually caused by stomach acid, which rises up into your esophagus and causes discomfort. Unfortunately, heartburn can last for hours and make it hard to focus on anything other than the pain.
It is more common than you might imagine and many people experience it at some time or other. For some people, it is relatively frequent, so it is important to know how to address its symptoms, as it can have a significant impact on your day.
Recognize the Symptoms
Pain in the chest or throat
Pain in the chest or throat is one of the most common symptoms of heartburn. But what causes it, and how can you get rid of it?
Experts believe the pain could be caused by acid reflux which results from the stomach contents backing up into your esophagus. Common treatments such as antacids and Over The Counter (OTC) medications can help combat the problem, but if this doesn’t work, then lifestyle and dietary changes may be needed. Some people find that avoiding certain foods, curbing alcohol consumption, or quitting smoking can help reduce heartburn and its associated pain.
Taking note of food triggers, creating meal plans and exercising regularly can also provide relief.
There are, to be reassuring, many potential solutions to minimizing or eliminating chest and throat pain due to heartburn. You need not suffer unduly.
A burning sensation in the chest is often a symptom of heartburn. It can be a cloying, slightly gnawing feeling, and it can leave you breathless, or unable to breathe normally. It is a common symptom of heartburn. The good news is that there are ways to get rid of it. But if you identify this feeling in yourself, do not ignore it, especially if it comes again and again.
Sour or bitter taste
Another symptom of heartburn is the slightly sour or bitter taste in your mouth we mentioned earlier. First and foremost, you should try to identify the cause of it. Is it because of an overly spicy meal? Too much caffeine? Stress? Whatever the cause, that’s what you should aim to avoid.
It can also help to drink plenty of water and have an antacid on hand. Sipping water can help flush out acid, while antacids neutralize stomach acid, relieving the uncomfortable sensation. Ultimately, it is about helping your body find its balance again. If it has too much acid we need to rectify that.
In addition, regular physical activity can help reduce the likelihood of experiencing heartburn in the first place. So take a walk, go for a swim, or, to address matters longer term, perhaps join a yoga class. Not only will it help keep heartburn at bay, but it’ll also make you feel healthier overall.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Avoid lying down too soon after eating
Have you ever found yourself with heartburn shortly after eating? Many of us have experienced this sensation. Well, avoiding lying down too soon after meals helps to minimize the risk of heartburn. This is because when you’re in a reclined position, your stomach has more difficulty digesting food, so stomach acid can easily make its way into your esophagus and cause discomfort.
Additionally, when you’re lying down, gravity no longer assists in keeping stomach acid and food particles in the stomach – making it easier for them to reflux up the esophagus. So to avoid heartburn, try staying upright for at least two to three hours after meals if possible.
It is actually not a good habit to go to bed or lie down after any heavy meal, as we all need to make sure we move around after taking in a dose of calories. Food gives us energy, so we are wise to connect the intake of energy with the need to expend it.
Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes around the stomach
Have you ever noticed that after eating a big meal, you feel bloated and uncomfortable if you wear tight-fitting clothes around your stomach? That’s because wearing clothes that are too restrictive can actually cause or worsen heartburn. So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce or prevent heartburn, start by loosening up your wardrobe. This might sound like a non-medical approach, but it is actually a good idea not to constrict the body around its middle, as many key digestive functions operate there.
Most obviously, don’t wear belts that are too tight, and, perhaps less obviously, avoid tucking your shirt or blouse or jumper in, as this creates a bit more space for the body to breathe. These two simple changes can make a world of difference.
As we know, with today’s relaxed fashion trends, on most occasions when we are eating socially it is perfectly possible to be dressed for comfort. It really can be a good idea to do so, if you are prone to heartburn or if you know you are going to have a large meal. Especially when we are among friends, or perhaps at a work meal, we want to avoid heartburn. So the next time you want to protect yourself from heartburn, remember: let your clothes breathe.
One of the best things you can do to avoid heartburn is to stop smoking. Many people do not instinctively connect smoking with heartburn, but there really is a correlation between nicotine and heartburn. This is because smoking increases acid production and relaxes the muscles between your stomach and esophagus which increases your risk of heartburn.
Of course it is not easy to stop smoking, but there are steps you can take.
Firstly, give yourself deadlines and keep track of your progress. Secondly, get support from family and friends to aid you in sticking with your aim. Thirdly, turn to nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches or gum. And if you need help in kicking the habit for good, consider seeking professional advice from your doctor or smoking cessation specialist.
With dedication and passion, you can be successful in your journey to a smoke-free life – and, of course, relief from heartburn pain.
Keep a food diary to help identify trigger foods
Have you ever experienced a sudden and painful bout of heartburn? If so, the chances are that the foods you are eating at the time are causing it. But what if you don’t know what those trigger foods are? What if you are unsure of the particular foods that are causing the heartburn? Well, a great way to find them is to keep a food diary.
Every time you eat, make a note of what you ate and how long afterwards the heartburn started. Over time, you’ll be able to build up a picture of which foods cause heartburn and in what quantity. This can be really valuable information, as it can help you to identify and avoid your trigger foods.
Keeping a food diary can help you to better understand your body and how it responds to certain foods, giving you the power to manage or even eliminate the heartburn that you experience. Though it takes focus to keep a food diary, the rewards to your health are potentially huge.
Seek Professional Medical Treatment
Consult your doctor for medical advice
It is always important to remember that your doctor or healthcare provider is there for you. If you are worried about your health, you always have the option to get professional advice. Heartburn can be a very upsetting ailment, so do not feel shy about seeking advice from your doctor, GP, or pharmacist. If you have a Health Plan, or private medical insurance, make sure to take advantage of those options and consult your doctor as soon as possible. He or she might be able to provide helpful treatments to get rid of your heartburn.
If you visit the doctor or seek professional in-person advice, it is a good idea to go with as much information as possible for the doctor to assist you by making the right personal diagnosis for you.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce stomach acid
Your doctor may of course prescribe medication to reduce stomach acid, helping to stop the burning sensation in your chest.
But what kind of medication? Well, as with all medical decisions, that is for your doctor to decide in consultation with you. Depending on your situation, there are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help. You are likely to find there is a medicine that can help your heartburn.
Should you be prescribed medication, make sure to ask your doctor about potential side effects, interactions with other medicines, and any other information that might be important to your lifestyle. Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to help reduce heartburn, but speaking to your doctor should be something you always consider as an option to help you address the issue.
Surgery may be recommended to repair the lower esophageal sphincter
It is unlikely that this option will be required, as for most people who experience heartburn the issue is not this serious, but for some people surgery may be required to repair the lower esophageal sphincter and help get rid of heartburn.
Surgery, known as fundoplication, is designed to correct any damage to the lower esophageal sphincter and strengthen the muscle. During this procedure, the surgeon creates an artificial valve using the top part of the stomach and wraps it around the lower section of the esophagus. This tightens the muscle and prevents reflux.
The risk of complications following surgery are low and it has been found to be a highly effective way of dealing with troublesome heartburn. However, it is rarely necessary and should only be discussed with your doctor if lifestyle changes and other medications have not been effective.
Take Natural Remedies
Chew gum to improve saliva production
Have you ever heard that chewing gum can help with heartburn? It’s true! Chewing gum actually encourages saliva production, which helps in neutralizing stomach acid.
But why does this help? Well, when we chew gum, our salivary glands increase the flow of saliva to our mouth. Since saliva contains bicarbonate, an alkaline substance, it helps neutralize stomach acids and reduce pain.
So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get rid of heartburn, try chewing gum. You may be surprised by how quickly your symptoms improve.
Drink fluids to aid digestion
One thing that can help with heartburn and which is a natural remedy is to drink fluids, particularly before and after meals. This will help aid your digestion. Water is best, but even plain herbal tea or diluted fruit juice can be beneficial.
How does this help?
Well, drinks provide moisture and help break down food for easier digestion. The extra fluid can also help propel food through your digestive system more quickly so that it doesn’t stay in your stomach for too long.
So if you want to say goodbye to heartburn, try drinking fluids and see if it alleviates the symptoms.
Eat smaller meals to reduce stomach pressure
One way of rectifying heartburn is to eat smaller meals during the day? This can reduce stomach pressure and help prevent heartburn. Eating less with each meal also allows your digestive system to properly process what you’ve eaten. This reduces the likelihood of having an upset stomach and related issues like heartburn.
One of the best ways to get rid of heartburn is to take antacids. They come in a variety of brands and often come in chewable tablets or powder. Many of them are tasty and not at all unpleasant. These work by neutralizing the excess acid in your stomach, allowing the symptoms of heartburn to subside.
Antacids are available over-the-counter, so no prescription is needed. They have a good safety track record, and don’t usually cause serious side effects. Just make sure to follow the directions on the label.
Try baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and ginger tea.
Baking soda is a natural antacid which can neutralize stomach acid and help settle an upset stomach. Similarly, apple cider vinegar can help balance the acid levels in your stomach. Finally, ginger tea is a soothing option which can help ease nausea and reduce inflammation. But is it really possible for these home remedies to work? The answer is yes – many experienced heartburn sufferers swear by them. They are entirely natural and they are easy to administer. In addition, ginger tea and apple cider vinegar have other health benefits, so they are worth having to hand at home.