If you’re suffering from heartburn, then you’re not alone. Approximately 60 percent of adults experience some form of heartburn and guess what? It isn’t always that obvious.
Most people think that heartburn, also known as acid reflux is only characterized by a burning sensation in the chest which happens when stomach acid backs up from your esophagus – the pipe that transfers food from your mouth to your stomach. But heartburn can also have other unusual symptoms, such as a sour taste in your mouth, chest pain, a dry cough and frequent burping. That’s why, the best way to determine if you really do have heartburn is by visiting your local doctor.
For those of you who do suffer from heartburn, we’ve collected five tips and tricks to help you kick it to the curb.
Steer clear of trigger foods
Meal panning plays a key role in both the prevention and treatment of heartburn. Foods that can trigger reflux are best avoided. These include spicy food, greasy and fried food, chocolate, vinegar, oranges and other citrus fruits, and tomatoes and other citrus vegetables. These foods promote acidity in the stomach in most people.
Other trigger foods may not be so recognized. Did you know that peppermint, although good for digestion, is not so good for your reflux? Peppermint can relax the sphincter that works to control acid from moving out from your stomach and up your esophagus and consequently giving you that burning sensation in your throat. Avoid peppermint in all its forms – peppermint leaves, peppermint tea, mint candies, peppermint gum, and peppermint flavored antacids too.
Watch how you eat
Meal planning also involves how you eat, not just what you eat. When you’re suffering from reflux, it’s important to control the volume of food in your stomach. The larger the volume, the more pressure is placed on the sphincter and the more likely it will leak with stomach acid.
Instead of having three large meals, try eating five to six small frequent meals. In other words, you’ll need to stop eating before your get too full.
Opt out of certain beverages
If you’re really trying to avoid reflux or heartburn, you’ll need to watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine acts as an irritant and can disrupt your natural digestion. What are the caffeine containing beverages? Coffee, carbonated beverages, and black tea. Decaf coffee is allowed however.
Alcohol is another irritant because it impairs the ability of the esophagus to clear acid, especially after lying down and is best avoided altogether.
Heartburn symptoms can worsen when the body is reclining, because it’s easier for stomach acid to back up your esophagus, often causing problems problem while you sleep. As a result, you may wake up with a hoarse voice and a heavy cough. Fortunately, there are some bedtime guidelines specific to heartburn sufferers and following them will be a whole lot of a difference.
For starters, never go to bed right after a meal. Give yourself two to three hours to digest the food in your stomach before hitting the sack. Avoid tight fitting pajamas and instead wear something loose and comfortable that won’t push on your stomach and worsen your symptoms. Try elevating the head of your bed, aiming to have the level of your head above that of your stomach. Adding pillows is not the best option for this. Instead, adding cement or wood under the feet of your bed will provide you with a proper position.
On top of all its negative effects, cigarette smoking also increases your chances of developing reflux and worsens the symptoms. Smoking does this in a number of ways; it reduces saliva production which protects the esophagus from the acid in your stomach, it weakens the sphincter that holds back the stomach, and it promotes the production of stomach acid. So if you really are keen on solving heartburn, quitting smoking should be on your list of priorities.
Although easier said than done, start with the most important step which is taking the active decision to quit. Once you’re at that stage, you’ll find that there are a number of ways you can choose to quit – quitting cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapy, or even hypnosis among others. Choose the plan that works for your and enjoy the feeling of being smoke-free.