Looking for ways to control and avoid heartburn? Rest assured that you are in good company.
Heartburn is a widespread problem that affects approximately 15 million people across the United States. according to the American College of Gastroenterology. It is the result of acid reflux, which is a problem that involves acid from the stomach being pushed up into the esophagus.
Heartburn is extremely uncomfortable and produces a burning sensation in the chest area. Those dealing with this pain often have a hard time controlling it or reducing its symptoms. In severe cases that occur more than twice a week, this is a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Are you one of the many, many who suffer from heartburn? Well think positive because we are here to help you. This is how scientific research studies by experts and doctors reveal 4 ways to avoid heartburn and 5 best ways to treat it.
Four Tips on How to Avoid Heartburn
What is the best way to cope with acid reflux? Don’t get it! Here are four things to try to avoid heartburn.
Overeating is probably one of the main causes of heartburn, especially if you experience this problem on a frequent or chronic basis. To understand why, we must first understand how the esophagus works.
The esophagus is located behind the heart and trachea and is about 8 inches long. Lined with mucosa, a kind of pink tissue, this muscular tube has the simple function of connecting the throat and stomach. When it opens into the stomach, there is a muscle called the esophageal sphincter. This tissue is essentially a ring-shaped structure that works like a valve.
The role of the esophageal sphincter is to prevent the rise of stomach acid into the esophagus. It is intended to remain closed for the most part, except when vomiting, swallowing or belching. But when the esophageal sphincter is weakened, gas and acid from the stomach can leak out and lead to acid reflux. Or, as we call it today, heartburn. Excessive pressure on the esophagus can also cause a similar effect.
When you eat, the esophageal sphincter opens and closes more regularly. Weakened “valves” can have a difficult time bouncing between closed and open positions. This is the reason why a lot of heartburn occurs during or after meals. Also, studies suggest that large meals can make it worse. The journal Gut’s “evidence-based assessment of reflux disease management” indicates that this is one of the most important factors in positive prevention of heartburn.
2. Reduce your coffee consumption
When you drink coffee, its components make certain parts of the body weak. Specifically, this happens to the lower esophageal sphincter, which essentially means that acid reflux is more likely to occur.
More research is needed to link coffee to heartburn correctly, but so far, research shows that:
- The change in pressure on the sphincter in the lower esophagus after drinking coffee can aggravate or even lead to heartburn, according to one study in the journal Gastroenterology.
- Caffeine may be the main culprit within coffee leading to this result, according to one study in the journal Diseases of the Esophagus that was performed on healthy participants.
- Drinking decaffeinated coffee is less likely to trigger heartburn or results in a less severe experience among reflux patients, states one study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
- Another research article in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that the method of preparing coffee may also have positive or negative effects on the appearance of heartburn. However, the exact links have yet to be determined.
It’s worth noting that different people have different reactions to coffee, and some people may not experience any heartburn after consuming coffee, while others find their symptoms significantly worse. As such, you should first monitor your own response to coffee before reaching conclusions.
3. Maintain a healthy weight to avoid heartburn
The diaphragm is responsible for many different functions, but one of them is strengthening the sphincter of the lower esophagus. Excess belly fat can result in abdominal pressure that pushes the sphincter up, pulling it too far away from the diaphragm to provide much support. There is even a term for this problem: hiatal hernia.
Studies on this topic show that:
- Obese people are at higher risk for heartburn, which is likely due to their excess belly fat, says one study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences.
- Carrying extra weight on the abdomen can increase the risk of developing heartburn and other reflux disorders, as reported by a study in The American Journal of Medicine.
- Pregnant people are also at an increased risk of heartburn due to bloating in the stomach, according to investigation published in the journal Minerva Ginecologica.
- Losing weight, especially around the abdomen, may have positive effects on heartburn, relieving your symptoms and reducing your risk, states a JAMA Internal Medicine study.
4. Reduce the consumption of citrus juice
Citrus juices are usually packed with healthy vitamins and taste great, but if you have heartburn, partaking of these treats can make your symptoms worse. Why exactly this happens is a little less understood, but most experts and expert-led research seem to agree on this topic that there is a link. Here are some facts that we do know:
- Juices like grapefruit or orange can make heartburn symptoms worse, says one study in the journal Gastroenterology conducted in 400 patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Citrus fruits do not affect the lower esophageal sphincter, found a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, which means that aggravation of the lining of the esophagus is more likely to be the cause.
- Heartburn alone is not the only source of this worsening of citrus symptoms, as investigation Also published in the journal Gastroenterology found that even pH-neutral orange juice had similar results.
Too late to avoid acid reflux? Here are five ways that you can reduce the burning sensation.
1. Modify your current position or status
Sometimes heartburn is minor and is easily “treated” by making one or two minor adjustments to its current state. These adjustments take only a few seconds and can often significantly reduce or alleviate heartburn symptoms. These are some of those changes to try!
The act of sitting or lying down can increase esophageal pressure, especially if you are hunched or curled up while doing so. You can easily alleviate this by standing up.
Loosen the clothes you are wearing
Tight clothing can put pressure on the esophagus and cause stomach gas to enter. Loosening your clothing is a great way to relieve some of that pressure. Whether you remove a belt, loosen pants, or untie a dress or skirt ribbon, this can go a long way!
Raises the upper body
As mentioned above, lying down can increase esophageal pressure. However, if you absolutely must rest or lie down, be sure to sleep in a slightly tilted position, with your upper body raised. An adjustable bed or wedge pillow is ideal, so consider investing in one if you have a lot of heartburn.
2. Have some ginger
Ginger It has been a staple of medicine for centuries, and is a traditional method of treating heartburn that still rings true today. Many experts believe that due to its ability to relieve nausea, it may also be effective in treating heartburn, although you will need to try it yourself to determine how. positive its effects may be for you.
Not sure how to add ginger to your diet? Here are some ideas:
- Do ginger tea soaking the ginger root (dried and raw work well) or using ginger tea bags.
- Add ginger to soups, stir fries, and other foods.
- Grate or dice the ginger if you can’t stand its flavor too much
3. Chew gum
Do you have heartburn after meals? Chew gum for half an hour after eating and you may see a reduction in symptoms. Research published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics indicates a clear positive link between chewing gum and reduced acidity.
But why? Well, the act of chewing gum results in the production of saliva and the stimulation of swallowing. This can help clear the esophagus of stomach acid or dilute the acid, making its effects less severe.
4. Take a licorice root supplement
Licorice root is generally considered a traditional and popular type of treatment, the kind that has been used for decades, if not centuries. Why? There is a possibility that it helps increase mucus production to cover the lining of the esophagus more reliably. This can prevent stomach acid damage.
Of course, eating licorice candies won’t exactly help you. The trick lies in a supplement known as deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or DGL. The supplement has reduced the glycyrrhizin content to reduce the licorice side effects, providing the benefits without too much downside.
However, keep in mind that you should not consume too much DGL, depending on experts at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Consuming too much DGL can lead to:
- Medication interference
- Higher blood pressure
- Reduced potassium levels
Always speak with a medical professional before taking any supplement, even “alternatives” like licorice root.
5. Take medications
Those who experience severe or frequent heartburn may need to treat the problem with medication. There are several over-the-counter options that can benefit you. Some examples are:
- H2 blockers, which reduce the amount of stomach acid secreted
- Antacids, which neutralize stomach acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, that do the same as H2 blockers
Be aware that severe heartburn or chronic acid reflux can be a sign of an acid reflux disorder that needs professional help and treatment. If you think you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, you should speak with your doctor or appropriate medical professional for a diagnosis and advice.
Dealing with heartburn requires a lot of pain tolerance, positive thoughts, and remedies. For such a common problem, so much can be misunderstood. That is why learning how to properly prevent (and if necessary treat) heartburn and acid reflux is important for those who regularly experience it.
Dealing With Excessive Heartburn? Talk to your doctor. Any experience of heartburn three or more times per week is generally classified as gastroesophageal reflux disease. Most doctors will have a more effective form of treatment to offer you and additional advice on how to avoid heartburn.