You’ve just eaten out. Everything seems fine until you get into bed. First, there’s a general discomfort like you need to belch. When you do, you can taste your dinner from two hours ago.
Then your chest begins to feel warm. Clearing your throat begins a burning sensation that extends back down the esophagus to your stomach. Now, you have to sit up. Fully awake, you drink a glass of water to ease the burning but the relief is short lived. This is heartburn.
Here are five tips to keep your heartburn under control.
Tip One: Know your triggers.
Those who experience heartburn after certain activities can reasonably assume what is causing their episodes. Certain foods can bring on a bout of acid reflux. Like the scenario above, spicy or fatty foods can trigger an attack. Fats digest slower in the stomach. Chocolate can also cause heartburn in certain people. If these or other foods such as fruits and juices or tomatoes and tomato products are suspected of causing your heartburn, avoid them.
Tip Two: Don’t eat late.
Going to bed right after eating is a disaster waiting to happen. The acid needed to break down the food is getting revved up. If you lay down, the contents of the stomach shift causing pressure on the sphincter (valve opening) between the stomach and the esophagus. Acid escapes and travels backwards up the esophagus and back into the mouth.
Tip Three: If you must enjoy, take a pill.
Some people are addicted to their heartburn triggers. If you must have your morning coffee or your weekly dose of Mexican food, head off the heartburn before it starts. Several over-the-counter medications are designed to reduce stomach acid before an episode occurs. Try Pepcid AC® or Zantac®. These products can be taken forty-five minutes to an hour before a meal.
Tip Four: Lose weight.
If you’ve never experienced heartburn before, but recently it has become a common occurrence, check the scale. If you are overweight, this could be the problem. For men in particular, excess weight is held around the abdominal area. This extra weight puts more pressure on the sphincter causing acid reflux.
Tip Five: De-stress.
Stress can lead to weight gain, smoking, drinking, and other behaviors that trigger heartburn. If increased pressures at home or work are leaving you frazzled, confide in a friend or professional counselor. A listening ear now can avoid heartburn later.
If you know anyone experiencing heartburn, pass this information along. A little knowledge goes a long way in creating a healthier lifestyle. Help someone else alleviate their heartburn today.