Adopt New Bedroom Habits
Do you have trouble sleeping at night due to heartburn? If so, try sleeping on your left side this position seems to help. Experts also recommend keeping your upper body elevated to make it harder for acids to flow up the esophagus. Raise the head of your bed or use a thick wedge-shaped body pillow when sleeping to keep heartburn at bay.7
* Onset of acid neutralization does not imply the onset of symptom relief.
What Are You Going To Do To Cure Your Heartburn
Are you simply going to treat the heartburn with short-term remedies or are you going to attack the real underlying problem that is driving your symptoms? I suspect that the larger long-term recommendations are a bit intimidating and you are not sure if you can make that type of commitment. You are not alone.
Here is an approach that may help you ease into building your path to relief and good health:
We know you can do this because so many others before you have succeeded. Dont delay, this is your disease and its your quality of life that is at risk. You can do this!
This article is from Reflux MD
Medical Resources Used for This Article
Let Your Stomach Loose
Tight waistbands or belts that dig into your stomach place unnecessary pressure on your abdomen.10 Swallowing an antacid and undoing the button of your pants or taking your belt down a notch or two after eating will provide instant relief. Maintaining a healthy weight is, however, a better long-term solution.
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Smoking + Alcohol = Heart On Fire
Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can set you up for terrible reflux. The nicotine and alcohol both work to weaken your LES, making it that much easier for stomach contents and acid to splash up into your esophagus. Alcohol is also going to irritate your stomach in general. The solution? Quit smoking, and drink less Doing both will improve your health overall, in addition to relieving acid reflux.
Learn How It Differs From A Heart Attack
Have you been experiencing significant discomfort or pain in your chest? Has this pain affected your daily routines and overall quality of life? You may be experiencing severe or persistent heartburn, which often occurs two times a week or more.
Its important to manage severe heartburn, as the impact on your health can be serious. When your esophagus or throat is regularly exposed to stomach acid, it can cause pain, throat ulcers, and tissue abnormalities.1 This could affect your ability to swallow, breathe, and even speak. Unmanaged, this damage could increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers.
Since these severe heartburn symptoms are experienced in the same region as symptoms experienced during a heart attack, it’s crucial to understand the difference between the two.2 Heartburn pain tends to be felt in the center of your chest, while heart attack pain may be slightly to the left of your heart. It can radiate through your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and/or down your arms . Heartburn sufferers often describe their symptoms as a series of sharp chest pains, while victims of a heart attack tend to describe the feeling as a dull heaviness.
If you’re uncertain whether you’re experiencing heartburn or a heart attack, speak to a medical professional right away.2 Additionally, if you find that your heartburn is more frequent , you may want to consult your doctor about trying a proton pump inhibitor like Nexium 24HR.
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Dont Drink Too Much Coffee
Studies have found that coffee temporarily relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux .
Some evidence also points toward caffeine as a possible cause. Similarly to coffee, caffeine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which could cause reflux .
Nevertheless, although several studies suggest that coffee and caffeine may worsen acid reflux for some people, the evidence is not entirely conclusive.
For example, one analysis of observational studies found no significant effects of coffee intake on the self-reported symptoms of GERD.
Yet, when researchers investigated the signs of acid reflux with a small camera, they found coffee consumption was linked to greater acid damage in the esophagus .
Thus, whether coffee intake worsens acid reflux may depend on the individual. If you find coffee gives you heartburn, its best to simply avoid it or limit your intake.
Evidence suggests that coffee may make acid reflux and heartburn worse. If you feel like coffee worsens your symptoms, consider limiting your intake.
Limit Your Intake Of Carbonated Beverages
Healthcare professionals sometimes advise people with GERD to limit their intake of carbonated beverages.
This is because studies have observed that regular consumption of carbonated or fizzy beverages, including soft drinks, club soda, and seltzer, could be linked to a higher risk of reflux .
One study found that carbonated soft drinks, in particular, worsened certain acid reflux symptoms, including heartburn, fullness, and burping .
The main reason is that the carbon dioxide gas in carbonated beverages causes people to burp more often an effect that can increase the amount of acid escaping into the esophagus .
Drinking carbonated beverages temporarily increases the frequency of burping, which may promote acid reflux. If they worsen your symptoms, try drinking less or avoiding them altogether.
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What Side Effects Do The Medications Have
Overall, about 2 out of 100 people who take proton pump inhibitors have side effects like diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, pain in the upper stomach area, difficulty swallowing or headaches. Sometimes these side effects can be avoided by switching to a different PPI or changing the dose.
The long-term use of PPIs can increase the risk of bone fractures, particularly if they are taken at high doses for more than a year. There is some debate as to whether these drugs might also make people more likely to develop a severe inflammation of the bowel, pneumonia or cardiovascular problems.
Fewer than 1 out of 100 people who take H2-receptor antagonists have side effects such as nausea or headaches.
Sip On Water And Baking Soda
Utilizing a small amount of baking soda mixed with water could lower your stomachs acidity levels similar to an over-the-counter antacid due to the same active ingredients, sodium bicarbonate, Dr. Johnston says. This is one of the best at-home remedies to provide occasional, temporary relief from acid reflux.
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When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your heartburn wont go away.
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
- Its hard or hurts to swallow.
- Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
- You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
- You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
- You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
How Is Heartburn Treated
In most cases, heartburn can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to lifestyle habits that cause the feeling. Occasional heartburn is common and is typically not serious. However, if you have frequent and severe heartburn, reach out to your healthcare provider. This could be a sign of a chronic condition like GERD. GERD can lead to other serious conditions like esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and even cancer. Sometimes, your doctor may want to do an endoscopy to check for underlying medication conditions. An endoscopy is the examination of your digestive tract with a lighted flexible instrument.
Over-the-counter medications for heartburn typically include antacids and acid blockers.
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Check Your Sleep Position
Dr. Mehdizadeh recommends using a wedge pillow when you sleep because it helps to maintain an elevated sleeping position. You can also try sleeping on your left side. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this position is more likely to keep stomach contents where they belong, rather than passing up through the lower esophageal sphincter into the esophagus, which reduces the chances of developing heartburn symptoms. Elevating the head of your bed is another trick to keep heartburn away. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using risers or wood blocks under the head post, so the entire head of the bed is at an angle.
Causes Of Heartburn And Acid Reflux
Lots of people get heartburn from time to time. There’s often no obvious reason why.
Sometimes it’s caused or made worse by:
- certain food and drink such as coffee, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
- being overweight
- an increase in some types of hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen
- some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory painkillers
- a hiatus hernia when part of your stomach moves up into your chest
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How Long Does Heartburn Last
Heartburn can affect people differently. In general, heartburn symptoms begin shortly after eating and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, or even longer.
How long you experience symptoms depends on the underlying cause. It also depends on what you do at the first sign of symptoms. For example, sometimes heartburn symptoms last until your body digests the triggering food. Other times, it goes away if you stand up instead of lying down after eating.
If you take OTC antacids or prescription medications as part of a treatment plan, you may experience a shorter duration or fewer heartburn symptoms.
Your esophagus connects to your stomach at a juncture known as the lower esophageal sphincter. If the lower esophageal sphincter is functioning properly, it closes when food leaves the esophagus and enters the stomach.
In some people, the lower esophageal sphincter doesnt function properly or it becomes weakened. This leads to contents from the stomach leaking back into the esophagus. Stomach acids can irritate the esophagus and cause symptoms of heartburn. This condition is known as reflux.
Certain conditions and other factors may make it more likely for you to experience heartburn. Risk factors include:
How Do Acid Blockers Work To Treat Heartburn
Products like Pepcid AC® are called histamine H2 blockers, or acid blockers. Acid blockers reduce the production of stomach acid. They relieve heartburn, acid indigestion and sour stomach. Always follow the directions on the packaging or talk to your healthcare provider about how to take this medication. Acid blockers you can buy without a prescription include:
Take your acid blocker medicine regularly for as long as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you do not have any pain or if your symptoms get better.
Stronger acid blockers are prescription medications. These can be used to block stomach acid, treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid. Your healthcare provider will give you a specific prescription for this type of acid blocker.
The United States Food and Drug Administration recently reported elevated levels of a possible carcinogen, NDMA, in the drugs ranitidine and nizatidine . You should speak to your healthcare provider if you are taking one these medications.
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When You Should Go To The Er For Heartburn
Normally, heartburn doesnt need treatment in the ER. Over the counter remedies, such as antacids, are available to calm the burning effect and reduce the symptoms. However, you should seek medical advice or go to the emergency room for heartburn if the symptoms recur frequently or if you get any of the following additional symptoms:
- Breathing difficulties
What Are The Complications Associated With Heartburn
Occasional heartburn isnt typically a cause for concern. However, frequent heartburn may be a symptom of GERD. This condition may require treatment with prescription medication or surgery.
If left untreated, GERD may lead to additional health problems, such as an inflammation of the esophagus, which is called esophagitis, or Barretts esophagus, according to a 2018 review . Barretts esophagus causes changes in the lining of the esophagus that can increase your risk of esophageal cancer.
Long-term heartburn can also affect your quality of life. See your doctor to determine a course of treatment if you find it difficult to carry on your daily life or are severely limited in your activities due to heartburn.
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Home Remedies For Heartburn: 10 Ways To Get Rid Of Acid Reflux
Despite what its name implies, heartburn has nothing to do with your heart.
Rather, it’s a burning sensation in your chest that occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, the 10-inch tube connecting your mouth to your stomach.
When it hits, heartburn can last for just a few minutes or as long as several hours. Either way, it’s uncomfortable so it’s no surprise if you’re looking for a way to get rid of the sensation fast.
C Make All The Necessary Lifestyle Changes
There are many things you can do besides maintaining a healthy BMI and following a GERD friendly diet. Here is a short list of recommendations you should consider:
- If you smoke, stop immediately
- Leave at least 3 hours between your final meal and bedtime
- Wear loose-fitting clothes
- Drink plenty of water
- Walk for 20 minutes after a major meal to aid digestion
- Try eating 5 or 6 small meals daily
For a more thorough list of recommendations, we recommend you read Acid Reflux Remedies Questions, Answers, Stages & Treatments.
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Is It Just Heartburn Or Gerd
Frequent heartburn can be a major issue. If you experience heartburn two or more times a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease .
In this chronic condition, frequent exposure to stomach acid irritates and damages the esophagus. Over time, that can lead to problems such as difficulty swallowing. An estimated 40 percent of Americans report symptoms of GERD – but the condition can significantly improve with lifestyle changes.
If you’ve tried home remedies and lifestyle adjustments and still have frequent heartburn, consult with your family doctor or a gastroenterologist. There are multiple treatments that can help, including medications and minimally invasive surgery for acid reflux.
How To Treat Heartburn When Natural Remedies Dont Work
You may need to take a different approach for heartburn relief if natural remedies arent helping with chest pain, frequent heartburn, and indigestion. The good news is that several over-the-counter and prescription medications are available in the event that home remedies dont work. If youre pregnant, make sure to talk with your doctor before taking any medicine for heartburn. They can recommend an antacid that is safe during pregnancy.
TheU.S. Food & Drug Administration has identified three classes of medications for the treatment of heartburn, including antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H2-receptor antagonists.
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Ginger Can Help Heartburn
If your mother gave you flat ginger ale when you had an upset stomach as a kid, it may have seemed like a treat but there was a good reason behind it. Ginger has long been known to help calm stomach troubles, including stomach bloating and acid reflux. Carbonation and added sugar aggravate the stomach though, so youre better off drinking ginger tea.
How Can I Prevent Heartburn
There are many steps you can take to help prevent heartburn:
- Avoid foods or drinks that may trigger your symptoms, such as acidic foods, high fat foods, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol, mint, and carbonated drinks.
- Wait at least 3 hours after eating to lie down.
- Place blocks or books under your bed to elevate the head of your bed. This can help prevent stomach acid from traveling back up your esophagus.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes, which can put pressure on your stomach and lower esophageal sphincter.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than two or three large ones to help ease the impact on your digestive system.
- Chew sugarless gum after eating. A found chewing gum can increase saliva production, helping to neutralize stomach acid and push acid back into the stomach.
- If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit.
- Maintain a moderate weight.
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