If you have heartburn, you’re probably all too familiar with the burning sensation felt in the chest behind the breastbone. It’s due to stomach acid refluxing back into the esophagus. Unlike many conditions, fortunately, heartburn, aka gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), might be controlled through both diet and lifestyle. Here are some general tips to help you prevent heartburn:
Obesity and being overweight is the leading cause of heartburn because extra stomach fat places pressure on your abdomen, pushing gastric juices up into your esophagus. Even moderate weight loss makes many people feel better.
Avoid certain foods
Certain foods are known to cause and aggravate reflux. It can differ from person-to-person, but in general, try to avoid the following:
- Fatty foods
- Spicy foods
- Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus
- Coffee or any caffeinated beverage
- Carbonated beverages
Large meals fill your stomach and empty slowly, putting pressure on the LES, making reflux and GERD more likely. Instead, try eating smaller meals more often
Don’t lie down after eating
In the first three hours after a meal, acid production peaks because gravity plays a role in reflux. Wait at least three hours before lying down after a meal. Avoid large meals late in the day and try to make your main meal midday.
Elevate your bed.
Simply raising the head of your bed six-eight inches helps keep gastric acid in your stomach down. Consider a wedge-shaped support to keep your esophagus above the stomach. Use extra pillows to also raise your entire upper body for relief from GERD.
A number of medications can promote heartburn because they either relax the LES, interfering with digestion, or further irritate an already inflamed esophagus. Always swallow medication in the upright position with plenty of water. Some medications known to increase your risk are:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Calcium channel blockers (to treat high blood pressure)
- Certain asthma medications, including beta-agonists like albuterol
- Anticholinergics, medications used to treat conditions, like seasonal allergies and glaucoma
- Bisphosphonates to boost bone density
- Sedatives and painkillers
- Some antibiotics
- Iron tablets
Nicotine can also relax the LES muscles and interfere with your saliva’s ability to clear acid out of the esophagus.
Wear loose-fitting clothes
Tight clothes or belts can constrict your stomach, putting you at risk for heartburn.
Try a gluten-free diet
Gluten is a protein found in grains like barley, rye, and wheat and may cause or exacerbate heartburn symptoms. Try eliminating it from your diet to see if it helps.
Antacids temporarily relieve heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid.
Hopefully, these tips will help you. If you try them and still have GERD, contact Houston Heartburn to find relief today.