10 feb 2015 heal 448x268

HEAL

Heartburn: Simple remedies to put out the fire

You know the feeling. It's that burning sensation just below the breast bone, sometimes rising up into your chest. Normally, a muscular valve between the stomach and the esophagus keeps stomach acid where it belongs—in your stomach. But if the valve loosens or doesn't close completely, that's when the burning begins.

If you suffer from occasional heartburn, here are some suggestions to put out the fire. 

While foods that trigger heartburn can vary from person to person, avoid spicy (think hot chili peppers) or acidic foods. Acidic foods can include coffee, citrus fruits, tomatoes and chocolate. Carbonated beverages, wine and other alcoholic beverages may also trigger heartburn.

Peppers

Don’t smoke. Smoking can irritate the esophagus and may also weaken the valve between the esophagus and stomach.

Woman breaking cigarette

Lose some weight. Excess girth may put too much pressure on the stomach, allowing stomach acid to escape.

Foot stepping on scale

Practice portion control. When you overeat, your stomach has to stretch, which can weaken the valve leading to the esophagus. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals.

Pasta

Avoid late-night eating. Wait at least three hours after eating before you go to bed to give your stomach a chance to empty itself.

Woman sleeping in bed

If you need relief from infrequent heartburn, try a calcium-based antacid. Some people also find relief with sodium bicarbonate – otherwise known as baking soda. Mix ½ teaspoon with 4 ounces of water. This helps neutralize the acid. Note that this contains sodium and should not be used if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Check with your doctor if you are taking any prescription drugs, are pregnant or have a chronic health condition.

Bottle of antacids
Other over-the-counter treatments are H2 blockers, which offer instant heartburn relief, or proton-pump inhibitors, which must be taken for at least several days and help to prevent heartburn by blocking acid production in the stomach. These drugs should not be taken indefinitely without checking with your doctor. If you have frequent heartburn for more than six weeks, or if these remedies don’t help your heartburn, see your doctor.

Hand holding pill

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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