When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your heartburn wont go away.
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
- Its hard or hurts to swallow.
- Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
- You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
- You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
- You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
Top 15 Heartburn Remedies
Just because heartburn is common doesnt mean you have to suffer with it. Left untreated, frequent acid reflux can develop into more serious health problems. Here are the top 15 heartburn remedies…
Despite humorous commercials touting heartburn remedies with funny words like plop-plop and fizz-fizz, heartburn is no joke. More than 60 million Americans suffer from it at least occasionally, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.Heartburn, also known as acid indigestion, occurs when acidic stomach juices flow backward into the esophagus, irritating the esophageal lining. The resulting pain can be uncomfortable, annoying or excruciating. It can hurt as much as a heart attack, says Paige Hastings, a certified nurse practitioner at The Little Clinic in Nashville, Tenn.But not everyone has such pain you could also feel a bitter or acidic taste in the back of your throat or the awful sensation of food or liquid washing back into your mouth and down the gullet.In fact, frequent heartburn and food sticking in the throat are signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease .Untreated, these problems can lead more serious problems, including strictures , ulcers, cancer and pneumonia, explains Patricia Raymond, MD, a gastroenterologist based in Virginia Beach, Va.
What Foods And Drinks Cause Heartburn
- Alcohol: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Coffee and orange or other acidic juices are some of the beverages that can worse or trigger heartburn.
- Fatty foods, fried foods, and some acidic foods as well as spicy foods can cause heartburn.
- Additional foods that make heartburn worse.
Every person reacts somewhat differently to specific food groups. To track what foods worsen your symptoms, keep a food journal. In this journal, you should keep track of what you eat, the time you ate, any activity that worsened or made the heartburn better, and indicate which days you have heartburn symptoms. Over time, you will be able to correlate the offending foods with heartburn events. Print this and take this with you to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss possible causes of heartburn you may be experiencing.
Pregnancy tends to aggravate heartburn because the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened during pregnancy. This weakened resolves after delivery of the baby. Pregnancy also distorts the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure from the growing fetus causes heartburn. These changes promote the reflux of acid and heartburn.
Approximately 17% to 45% of women who become pregnant will suffer from heartburn.
Management of heartburn during pregnancy consists of many of the same home remedies and lifestyle changes for a person with heartburn who is not pregnant .
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Types Of Otc Heartburn Medicines
There was a time when the most common OTC remedies for heartburn were either chalky antacids or medicinal effervescent tablets. Anything stronger was usually very expensive, available only by prescription, and reserved for those who were diagnosed with bleeding ulcers or other serious digestion-related conditions.
In the 1980s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started approving OTC versions of several of these medications. Here are the three most popular types available without prescription:
Acid neutralizers use chemical bases, such as calcium carbonate, to reduce the stomachs acidity level. When a base interacts with an acid, the pH level moves closer to neutral, thus reducing the effects of stomach acid on the esophagus. Antacids provide almost immediate relief because they interact directly with stomach acids, unlike the medicines described below, which must first enter the bloodstream. The soothing effects of antacids can be short-lived, however. Common antacids include Tums, Rolaids, and Alka-Seltzer.
Proton pump inhibitor
Histamine 2 receptor antagonist
Opt For Cooked Onions Instead Of Raw
Raw onions are a common trigger for acid reflux and heartburn.
One older study in people with acid reflux showed that eating a meal containing raw onion significantly increased heartburn, acid reflux, and burping, compared with consuming an identical meal that didnt contain onions .
More frequent burping might suggest that more gas is being produced. This could be due to the high amounts of fermentable fiber in onions .
Raw onions are also more difficult to digest and might irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing worsened heartburn .
Whatever the reason, if you think eating raw onion makes your symptoms worse, you should avoid it and opt for cooked onions instead.
Some people experience worsened heartburn and other reflux symptoms after eating raw onions.
Recommended Reading: What Does It Mean To Have Heartburn All The Time
Finding Heartburn Relief At Home
A few simple strategies can help soothe the burn of heartburn:
- Watch what you eat. Avoid specific foods that trigger your heartburn, but also watch out for peppermint, caffeine, sodas, chocolate, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, onions, and high-fat foods. Eat more fiber to keep your digestive tract moving and healthy. Also, reduce your portion sizes. Try eating five or six small meals a day, rather than three big ones. Eating too much at once is a big heartburn trigger.
- Watch when you eat. Push away the plate at least two or three hours before bedtime so your stomach has a chance to empty before you lie down.
- Watch how you eat. Eat slowly, taking smaller bites.
- Lose weight. Excess abdominal fat can press against the stomach, forcing acids up into the esophagus. Follow a diet and exercise program to shed extra pounds.
- Keep a diary. Write down what you’ve eaten and when your heartburn symptoms occur so you can pinpoint which foods are your triggers and avoid them.
- Toss the cigarettes.Smoking can reduce the effectiveness of the muscle that keeps acids in the stomach. For this, and so many other health reasons, it’s always the perfect time to quit.
- Loosen your belt. Ditch the skin-tight jeans. Tight clothes put added pressure on the abdomen.
- Tilt up. Put wood blocks under your bed to raise the head about 6 inches. Don’t bother raising your pillows, though — it’s not effective for heartburn.
How To Cure Heartburn Four Quick Fixes And Long
How to cure heartburn you ask? Well, theres no easy answer to that question.
If youve been struggling with acid reflux for any length of time, then you know there isnt a quick fix to this disease as a whole. GERD has many symptoms, one of which is heartburn. At the crux of this disease is the lower oesophageal sphincter . Located at the junction of the oesophagus and the stomach, the LES can weaken and no longer function as an effective barrier, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to back-flow up into the oesophagus. When this happens, heartburn often follows. This weakening of the LES is progressive, so the more often you reflux, the more frequent the episodes become.
Learn more: GERD explained: The role of the LES
Medications can help relieve acid reflux symptoms by making the contents of the stomach less acidic however, they dont stop reflux from happening. Thats why managing GERD requires commitment and diligence: Watching what and how you eat and making lifestyle choices aimed at minimizing reflux can reduce your symptoms AND help stop the progression of the condition.
But sometimes, despite your best efforts to manage your GERD, heartburn strikes and you need relief . So though we cant provide a definite answer to how to cure heartburn? We can offer four quick fixes to help you cool the burn.
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Treating Heartburn And Gerd
Heartburn is a feeling of burning pain in your lower chest, behind the breastbone. It comes from acid backing up from your stomach to your throat. You may have seen ads for heartburn drugs, such as Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid. These drugs are called PPIs . They keep the stomach from making too much acid. They have been shown to heal irritation of the tube between the throat and the stomach .
In most cases, you dont need a PPI for heartburn. You can get relief from a less powerful drug. And when you do need a PPI, you should take the lowest dose for as short a time as possible. Heres why:
How Can I Prevent Heartburn During Pregnancy
They say prevention is the best medicine, so knowing common heartburn triggers can help you keep the acid at bay.
Of course, pregnancy itself is a major trigger for heartburn. As your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach, this pushes stomach acid up your throat.
Those lovely hormones are no help either. They tend to relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus, which makes it easier for acid to make its way upward.
While theres nothing you can do to stop this entirely, there are a few things that can help prevent heartburn from flaring up during pregnancy:
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Use Carom Seeds To Relieve Heartburn
Carom seeds or ajwain as they are known in India is an age-old remedy for heartburn and other gastric problems. It is one of the finest Ayurvedic remedies for heartburn and gas. Carom seeds have anti-acidic properties and thus act as natural antacids. Thymol present in carom seeds act against acidity and gives you relief from heartburn. It also soothes the mucous membrane of your stomach.
Ways to Use Carom Seeds for Heartburn
More Ways To Avoid Heartburn
Sometimes it not just what you eat, but how you eat. Check out these tips for taming those searing symptoms.
Dont slouch when eating. It may be tempting to settle into the cushions and watch TV while inhaling that plate of Buffalo wings. But sitting less than straight while you chow down can encourage gastric juices to head in the wrong direction. Doctors say its also important stay upright for 45 to 60 minutes after eating. If stomach acid does escape, gravity will send that noxious stuff back to where it belongs: your stomach. Liquid and gas want to go to the path of least resistance, Pichetshote says. If youre laying down it can easily go up toward your head. If youre a little more upright, it has to fight gravity to move upward. The same goes for sleeping: Wait at least two to three hours after eating before hitting the sack.
Find your sweet spot. Overeating is never a good idea. When your stomach is distended and bloated, acid can rise back into the esophagus, triggering symptoms. But an empty stomach can cause problems, too. Go more than three to four hours without a meal or snack, and stomach acid which would usually be used in the digestive process to break down food collects. The best approach? Eat smaller meals and eat slowly. And choose water to wash things down.
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Ease Off The Drugs Gradually
Quitting heartburn drugs can be difficult because you might get rebound symptoms. They cause your stomach to produce less acid, and stopping suddenly can cause it to overproduce acid. If youre taking a PPI or H2 blocker once a day, ask your doctor about cutting back, perhaps to every other day, and then every few days.
For more detailed information on drugs to treat heartburn, GERD and acid reflux, see our free Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs Report on these medications.
What Causes Heartburn And What Does It Feel Like Exactly
Stomach acid is needed to break down the food you eat, something your stomach has no trouble handling. Your esophagus, on the other hand, is irritated by it.
To keep stomach acid in your stomach and out of your esophagus, a circular ring of muscle at the tube’s base, called the lower esophageal sphincter, acts as a valve. When this valve is relaxed, food you’ve consumed is allowed to pass through to your stomach. When contracted, this valve prevents this food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.
If this valve relaxes abnormally and stomach acid is allowed to travel back into your esophagus, acid reflux occurs. Heartburn is the most well-known and obvious symptom.
It can feel differently depending on its severity, but heartburn symptoms include:
- A burning sensation in your chest, behind your breastbone
- Burning pain that rises up toward your throat
- Having a bitter or sour taste in your mouth
Acid reflux and heartburn are sometimes caused by an underlying medical condition, or even a medication you’re taking in some cases. But, more often than not, they’re triggered by things like your diet and lifestyle choices making the occasional bout of heartburn fairly common.
Common triggers of heartburn include:
- Overeating or eating too quickly
- Lying down too soon after eating
- Consuming certain foods, including caffeine, carbonated beverages, alcohol, peppermint, citrus, tomato-based products, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
- Being overweight
- Stress and anxiety
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Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux
If youve experienced the occasional bout of heartburn, you know how uncomfortable the painful burning sensation can be. Maybe you want to go all-natural or you want to treat heartburn symptoms that don’t respond to medication. If this describes your situation, consider turning to diet and lifestyle modifications, as well as natural remedies to relieve your symptoms.
Heartburn may be caused by the backflow of your stomach contents into your esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that transports food to your stomach. When you have backflow from your stomach, the medical condition is called acid reflux. Your pain may also be caused by a more severe or chronic form of reflux called gastroesophageal reflux disease .
This article will look at several acid reflux remedies and lifestyle modifications that may help.
Verywell / Emily Roberts
Natural Remedies For Acid Reflux Final Note
Well thatends this article on home remedies for GERD and heartburn. You really do haveeverything here you possibly need to prevent and permanently cure your acid reflux. We do strongly recommend that you put in the necessaryeffort to incorporate as many of the recommendations weve listed for short and long term relief – rather than just use one or two of the quick solutionsand not bother with the rest. If you do just opt for the quick solutions, you will simply find your acidreflux and heartburn symptoms returning again and again and in much worseintensity levels. Remember this acid reflux and heartburn are not normalbodily functions. If you allow these problems to continue you will eventually endup with severe health conditions further down the track.Thats why you must nip this problem in the bud now and nip it permanently!
Its also important to note here that you must not quit any GERD or heartburn medicationyou may currently be on cold turkey. This would be an extremely unwise anddangerous thing to do. Your body has now become accustomed to this medicationso you will need to slowly wean yourself from it.
But you can definitely do it!
Work in conjunction with a naturopathic physician and giveyourself 2-3 months of slow weaning to be completely free of yourpharmaceuticals.
Read Also: What Could Cause Constant Heartburn
Home Remedies For Heartburn Baking Soda
The first remedy in the list of home remedies for heartburn is baking soda. A full spoon of the baking soda can help to end the burning and gnawing sensation of heartburn which is caused by acid reflux. It is also a natural antacid that reduces the symptoms of acid indigestion and heartburn. It helps to counteract the stomach acid and push it back down into your stomach . So if you choose this remedy, you need to prepare:
- A half or a teaspoon of the baking soda
- A glass of water
Lets implement according to this recipe:
- Pour the prepared baking soda into a glass of water
- Mix well
- Do this maximum 3 times a day and continue for one week.
Pay attention: do not use too much salt because you can have nausea or swelling
Follow A Low Carb Diet
Growing evidence suggests that low carb diets may relieve acid reflux symptoms.
In fact, some researchers suspect that undigested carbs may cause bacterial overgrowth and increased pressure inside the abdomen, which could contribute to acid reflux (
Excessive alcohol intake can worsen acid reflux symptoms. If you experience heartburn, limiting your alcohol intake might help ease some of your discomfort.
Recommended Reading: Best Otc Heartburn Medicine During Pregnancy
When Should You Consider A Ppi
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms such as trouble swallowing, weight loss, or chest pain. Call the doctor if you dont get better in about two weeks. The doctor will look for signs of problems such as GERD .
If you have GERD, you probably need a PPI. Talk to your doctor if:
- You have heartburn at least twice a week for several weeks.
- Food or acid often come back up into your throat.
- You take antacid or H2 blockers, and you make changes like the ones described on this page, but your heartburn does not go away.
If your doctor thinks you need a PPI:
- Ask to start with a low dose of generic prescription lansoprazole or omeprazole. You can also get these medicines over the counter.
- If the heartburn gets better after a few weeks, talk to your doctor about gradually lowering your dose.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.