Sometimes eating your favorite foods can be a real pain. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help prevent heartburn.
Controlling heartburn can help you feel better and enjoy life more. Heartburn is a feeling of burning pain in your throat or chest. It is caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus, which carries food from your mouth to stomach. Heartburn may be brought on by pregnancy, certain types of food, alcoholic beverages, and some types of medication.
Occasional heartburn is common and not a cause for major concern. However, if you experience heartburn more than twice a week, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This means the muscles at the end of your esophagus are not sealing off the stomach properly. If not treated, frequent heartburn can do serious damage to the esophagus. There are lifestyle changes, over the counter and prescription treatments, as well as surgical options for dealing with heartburn.
Control Your Heartburn
- Avoid foods that cause heartburn: alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, chocolate, citrus, peppermint, spearmint, spicy food, fatty food, full-fat dairy, tomatoes.
- Do not bend over or exercise right after eating.
- Do not lay down or go to bed for at least 3 hours after eating.
- Eat smaller meals.
- Do not wear tight fitting clothes or belts.
- Lose weight: 10 – 15 pounds of weight loss may drastically reduce heartburn or GERD.
- Sleep with your head elevated 6 inches.
- Quit smoking.
- De-stress with meditation or other relaxation techniques.
- OTC medications: Antacids (Maalox, Mylanta) can neutralize stomach acid; H2 blockers (Pepcid AC, Tagamet, Zantac) reduce production of stomach acid; Proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec OTC) stop stomach acid production.
Contact your doctor if symptoms do not subside with diet, lifestyle changes, or OTC medication. You may need prescription medication or even surgery. Our Heartburn and Swallowing Disorder Center can help you diagnose and treat your heartburn. Visit our online health library to learn more.
If you have severe chest pain, get immediate medical attention. Regional Medical Center can help you find a physician and answer any of your other health questions. Give our free Consult-A-Nurse® service a call at 1-888-741-5119.