Millions of people in the US are affected by heartburn, with over 15 million having symptoms every day. For many people experiencing occasional heartburn (defined as less than once a week), over the counter antacids and dietary awareness of triggers are enough to keep it managed. However, if you find yourself popping antacids more days than not, you should consult a doctor to help determine the cause of your heartburn and see what treatments may be available to you.
There are a few tips and suggestions though for reducing heartburn. Try some of these suggestions and see what might work for you.
- Know your trigger foods. These can differ from person to person but can include caffeinated beverages, alcohol, milk, fatty or greasy foods, mints, garlic and onions, or acidic foods like citrus or tomato. A food diary may help to pinpoint your trigger foods.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Sleeping in clothes that are too tight can put pressure on the stomach and make your symptoms worse.
- Sleep propped up. A wedge pillow can raise your entire upper body so that the whole trunk—not just the head—is elevated keeping stomach acids from flowing upward at night.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal at night. If your stomach isn’t completely full, there will be less pressure and less discomfort. Consider having a smaller dinner and a small evening snack instead.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a big trigger for some people and can irritate the intestinal tract.
There are also many natural suggestions to be found, with varying degrees of research to back them up. For some, these natural suggestions help a lot, but every body is different so what works for some may not work for others. Some commonly suggested natural remedies include:
Licorice supplements - licorice can increase the mucus coating in your esophagus, helping to protect it from the acid.
Apple cider vinegar - it must be diluted (one teaspoon or tablespoon in more than 8oz of water)
Ginger - ginger is well known to decrease nausea and there is some evidence small amounts may help with heartburn as well. Make ginger tea or add fresh ginger to your foods.
If you have tried some of the dietary and lifestyle changes and are taking over the counter medication more often than not, without much improvement, it is important to talk to your doctor. There are medications that can be prescribed and some surgical procedures as well. You also need to make sure the heartburn isn't a symptom of another medical condition.