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8 Tips for Preventing and Managing Heartburn
1 Sep. 2015

heartburnHeartburn is caused by a backflow of bile or food from the stomach to the esophagus, resulting in a burning sensation that radiates from the stomach upwards. While it can be a symptom of a serious GIT disease, healthy people can also experience heartburn due to stress or unhealthy food. Luckily, heartburn is preventable and the relief can be achieved through lifestyle and diet changes.

Here are 8 tips for preventing and managing heartburn:

1. Avoid heartburn triggers. Stay away from food and beverages that may trigger heartburn. Foods that are known to cause heartburn are: chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, caffeine-containing drinks, alcoholic and carbonated beverages, onions, mint, as well as spicy, fatty and deep-fried foods.

2. Don’t overeat. Decrease the portion size at meal times and try to eat 4 to 5 small meals a day instead of 3 large ones. Large portions fill the stomach and put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter making heartburn more likely.

3. Don’t lie down after eating. Wait at least 2 hours before going to bed. This time is enough for the food to be digested and emptied from the stomach, as well as for the acid levels to decrease.

4.  Lose weight. Extra stomach fat puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing gastric acids up into the esophagus. Shedding a few pounds can help relieve the symptoms.

5. Give up tobacco. Nicotine relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, as well as interferes with the saliva’s ability to clear gastric acid out of the esophagus. Stop smoking and you’ll definitely improve your symptoms.

6. Elevate your bed. Raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches when sleeping. This will help keep the acid down in the stomach.

7. Opt for loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothes and belts can constrict the stomach and worsen heartburn symptoms.

8. Review your medications. Some drugs can worsen the heartburn symptoms, either by relaxing the lower esophageal sphincter, interfering with the digestive process or further irritating the already inflamed esophagus. Typically such medications include: NSAIDs, asthma drugs, calcium channel blockers, anticholinergics, antibiotics, painkillers and sedatives.

If the symptoms are not relieved by these lifestyle changes, acid blocking medications, such as Omeprazole, can be of help. They work by suppressing gastric acid secretions by inhibiting the enzyme pump process. Antacids are also used to neutralize gastric acid and are helpful in relieving heartburn symptoms.

Most of these medications are available in OTC strength, so be sure to discuss it, as well as generic drugs, with your doctor.

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