Heartburn is a common problem faced by most of the people. There might have been chances where you must have experienced severe heartburn or acid reflux. Many people also complain of heartburn at least once in a fortnight a month. Well, continuous and untreated heartburn can be a cause for serious consequences such as esophageal cancer. The basic reason is that heartburn is a result of acids in stomach streaming back towards the esophagus.
However, no need to worry now! Here, we bring you a list of some good and effective tips and lifestyle changes to get rid of heartburn or acid reflux.
Causes of Heartburn
Usually, heartburn is a result of lower esophageal sphincter, referred commonly as LES. However, some other common causes of heartburn are:
- Food triggers like citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chocolates, and peppermint
- Eating foods with high content of oils and fats
- Lack of sleep
- Smoking as it relaxes LES
- Some specific medications
- Excessive intake of alcohol
Symptoms of Heartburn
Heartburn is a result of acid reflux during the process when stomach acid streams backward from the stomach towards the esophagus. The common symptoms of heartburn are:
- Burning in the throat – or sour, hot, acidic, or salty tasting fluid behind the throat
- Feeling of food stuck in the middle of the throat or chest
- A burning sensation in the chest, just behind the breastbone, felt usually after eating. The sensation can last a few minutes to any hours.
- Problematic swallowing
- Heartburn can also lead to problems like sore throat, cough, or chronic hoarseness.
- Chest pain, specifically after lying down, bending over, or eating. Well, any unexpected or unexplained chest pain calls to refer a doctor at the earliest. Don’t confuse it with heartburn unless your doctor diagnoses it to be due to heartburn.
Kick off Heartburn with Simple Lifestyle Changes
Having heartburn at midnight can make you uncomfortable. Moreover, the bitter taste doesn’t only disturb your sleep but also make it elusive. If heartburn troubles you every now and then, it is mandatory for you to make some lifestyle changes to kick off heartburn permanently. Some of these are listed ahead.
- Weight Control
Obesity or excessive weight is usually a cause for many health problems. Even a slight increase in your weight can be helpful to reduce heartburn symptoms.
- Stay relaxed when eating
Hurried eating or eating in stress can be a cause for increased production of acids in the stomach. Therefore, make sure to relax after meals. Also, avoid lying down just after the meal. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Avoid foods that trigger heartburn
Note the food items that can trigger heartburn symptoms in your body. These food items vary for different individuals. Some of the common foods include garlic, onion, peppermint, chocolate, caffeinated drinks, and spicy, greasy, or fried foods. In addition, citrus and acidic foods can also be a cause for heartburn.
- Wear loose fit clothes
Tight fit clothes, especially around the waist, can pressurize the stomach. This can further trigger the heartburn symptoms. Therefore, try to wear loose clothes.
- Stay upright just after eating
Being upright after a meal makes it difficult for the acid to flow back towards the esophagus. Also, avoid straining or bending over to lift heavy objects just after eating.
- Avoid late night eating or large meals at night
It is important that you ensure your last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before getting into bed if you want to get rid of heartburn permanently. Doing this would not only reduce acid formation in the stomach, but also allow the stomach to partially empty some contents before sleeping. Moreover, big meals can also pressurize the stomach. So, it is better to have 5-6 small meals a day instead of 3 big meals. More importantly, stay away from heavy meals after late evening.
- Stay away from Stress
Research has proved that usually, people complain of heartburn after drinking coffee to reduce stress. Therefore, make sure to confine a leisurely coffee cup to weekend breakfasts. This would help you to reduce the symptoms of heartburn to a great extent.
[ Read: How To Reduce Stress with Foods ]
- Avoid smoking
Smoking can alleviate the symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux. Furthermore, it also relaxes the esophagus muscles besides irritating the GI tract. Both these organs are crucial to keep the stomach acid in its place and prevent it from streaming back.
- Sleep Position
This is the most important thing to avoid heartburn or acid reflux. Lying down in a flat position brings the stomach and the throat at the same level, thus making it easier for the acid to flow back towards the esophagus and further leading to heartburn. Therefore, bring changes in your sleeping positions. Make sure to elevate the upper body when sleeping. You can do this in two ways:
- Go for a wedge shaped pillow that is at the minimum 6-8 inches thick on one side. Also, avoid substitution with regular pillows as they only raise the head instead of the upper body.
- Make sure to put your head on blocks of 5- to 6-inches.
- Avoid eating before a workout
It is a known fact that regular workout and exercise are the best techniques to deal with all types of health issues. But, to kick off problems like heartburn, try to maintain a healthy time gap of at least 2-3 hours for workout after any meal.
- Increase Water Intake
Dehydration is another cause for heartburn. Try to increase the water intake to avoid dehydration. Also, drinking more water would remove the toxins and acids formed in the stomach.
However, if you have tried all these lifestyle changes to kick off heartburn from your life but have not obtained desired results, it is wise to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and medication. Some of the most common symptoms that indicate to consult a doctor are continuous and untreated heartburn, heartburn followed by vomit, problem in swallowing, ongoing heartburn even after regular use of antacids.