Heartburn is a burning sensation that starts in the stomach and moves upwards, ending up in the throat and leaving a bitter or acidic taste in the mouth. It most often happens about an hour after you finish eating.
Everybody experiences heartburn sometimes, due to eating certain types of foods or taking certain medications (like antihypertensives, oral contraceptives, oral anxiolytics, etc.) or in certain situations, like being pregnant. The biggest problem when it comes to heartburn is that, if it occurs frequently and is left untreated, it can cause damage to the esophageal lining, called acid reflux disease, due to the acid eating away at the walls of your esophagus.
How to avoid heartburn
- First of all, you should avoid coffee, alcoholic beverages, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, spicy foods, chocolate, tomatoes, onions, and any other foods that you know are responsible for causing you heartburn.
- After eating, try to avoid intense exercise and positions such as bending over; we recommend that you walk at a slow, soft pace.
- Don’t go to bed until 2 or 3 hours after you eat, because when you lie down, the food can press upon your esophageal sphincter, whereas when sitting or standing, the food moves downward and away from the esophagus.
- Keep your meals light, especially your dinner. Heavy foods can cause more heartburn, especially if they are high in fat, because these foods are much more difficult to digest and can slow down your digestion.
- Sleep with your head elevated about 6 inches. You can either lift the head of the bed or adjust the mattress in the area where your head is.. Lifting your head higher than your esophagus will help prevent the return of food, and with it stomach acid. We don’t recommend that you use more pillows to prevent heartburn because during the night, you will move around a lot and potentially lose the pillows underneath your head.
- If you’re overweight, try to lose a few pounds. Obesity increases pressure on the abdomen, making it easier for food and stomach acid to move up to the esophagus.
- Try not to wear pants or belts that are too tight around your waist.
- Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, we recommend that you quit for many different reasons, but if this is the reason that you decide to give up tobacco, perfect.
- Avoid physical and emotional stress. If you can, try to take up some relaxation exercise, such as yoga or tai chi.
- If your symptoms persist, talk to your doctor, because there are medicines that can help you if these steps do not. You also should talk to your doctor if you notice any other gastrointestinal problems.