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Are you wondering how to avoid heartburn naturally? Dealing with heartburn symptoms is challenging, especially if you are trying to avoid over-the-counter or prescription heartburn medications. But, there are natural heartburn remedies and lifestyle changes that may help.
I am a passionate foodie and love exploring new foods and flavors when I eat. Of course, those exotic foods and flavors don’t always agree with me! Many times I have gone out to eat with family or friends, only to come home and lay on the couch for an hour trying to recover from the experience!
What causes heartburn? Basically, it is caused by the digestive acids that are supposed to stay in your stomach backing up into your esophagus or throat. Those places aren’t equipped to deal with stomach acid and the result is that you HURT!
Is it heartburn or GERD?
Heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are different but related. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, and GERD is a condition characterized by severe acid reflux.
Basically, the occasional acid reflux symptoms are called heartburn. Frequent heartburn and severe symptoms may eventually be diagnosed as GERD.
If you suffer from this condition and need heartburn relief, you have options.
Symptoms of heartburn
Heartburn symptoms can vary, depending on the person. In general, heartburn is just what it sounds like. The most common symptom is a burning sensation in the middle of the chest that is worse when you bend over or lie down.
Other symptoms include everything from difficulty swallowing and sore throat to coughing, nausea and vomiting. It’s important to figure out what foods and lifestyle choices trigger heartburn for YOU and then neutralize acid and gastro esophageal reflux symptoms by making changes in your day to day life.
How to Avoid Heartburn
There are several foods and lifestyle choices that may trigger acid reflux. Excess stomach acid that goes untreated for too long may cause long term problems. If you are looking for ways to prevent heartburn, here are a few tips that might help:
Foods that cause heartburn
Certain foods aggravate heartburn. However, the foods that cause heartburn vary for each person. Whether it is your peppermint tea (yes, peppermint can cause heartburn!), fresh onions, fried foods, or your morning coffee, you need to do a bit of research to figure out how to avoid heartburn-causing foods in your diet. (even the best decaf coffee can often cause heartburn!)
Many people find that spicy foods can worsen acid reflux. Another trigger for many people is carbonated beverages. Still others find that citrus fruits or drinking alcohol might trigger acid refulx. You may need to treat your digestive system carefully for a while to get GERD symptoms under control.
Eating smaller meals and avoiding foods that are very spicy might help. You also want to make sure that you don’t eat a big meal right before bed. Avoicd trigger foods as much as possible but also be careful how much and when you eat.
Chewing gum can actually help fight that burning sensation and chest pain that occasionally occurs with excess acid production after eating. Chewing sugar free gum after a meal may help prevent acid reflux while also not contributing to tooth decay.
Rethink your medications
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause heartburn. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and ask for alternatives to medications that you take regularly.
Rethink your wardrobe
Skinny jeans and tight belts might make heartburn symptoms worse. Loosen your clothes around your waist for better digestion and less pain.
Change your sleep position
Research has shown that changing from your right side to your left side decreases heartburn symptoms at night. You may also want to avoid sleeping on your back and try propping the head of your bed up a bit to prevent reflux.
Keeping your upper body elevated allows gravity to keep those acidic stomach contents in the actual stomach where they belong. People who struggle with persistent symptoms may actually have a weakened or irritated lower esophageal sphincter (the ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus). Sleeping with your head elevated on a wedge shaped pillow may help reduce heartburn.
Smoking causes many health problems but if you are trying to figure out how to avoid heartburn, quitting smoking may help.
Quitting smoking is obviously a huge challenge for many people. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help ditching the nicotine.
While losing weight is a challenging goal, it is one way to ease heartburn long term. The increased risk of heartburn is thought to be due to excess belly fat causing pressure on the stomach. Eat smaller, healthier meals and exercise more. In time, you may notice that maintaining a moderate weight will relieve heartburn all on its own.
While body weight plays a part in gastrointestinal disorders, it isn’t the only cause of digestive health problems. Talk to your doctor about your health concerns and avoid trigger foods. High fiber foods may help with weight loss while also keeping your digestive tract happier.
When should I see a doctor?
If you absolutely can’t get heartburn relief, talk to your doctor. A hiatal hernia is a common heartburn cause. If the muscle wall that separates the chest area from the abdomen becomes weak, the stomach and esophagus may shift and cause frequent heartburn.
Avoiding heartburn isn’t always easy and sometimes, no matter what you try it still flares up. While natural remedies for heartburn can help reduce stomach acid, doctors can recommend over the counter treatments when they don’t help quite enough. Sometimes antihistamines or proton pump inhibitors may be the only way to treat acid reflux.
What sort of heartburn treatment do you reach for when it hits? Do you have a tried and true way to reduce acid reflux?
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.