7 Tips On How To Manage Heartburn

manage heartburn

Heartburn is a common condition that nearly everyone will experience at some point in their life. In fact, more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms each day. Luckily, there are several ways you can manage heartburn and reduce symptoms. 

Tips To Manage Heartburn

Whether you have occasional heartburn or have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), your quality of life may be impacted. To help outline this common condition’s causes and treatment options, Birmingham Gastroenterology is here to provide useful tips on how to manage heartburn symptoms.

What Is Heartburn?

Despite its name, heartburn does not affect the heart in any way. Instead, it is a result of stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus. This sensation leads to an uncomfortable burning feeling in the lower area of the chest. Other accompanying symptoms include a sour or bitter taste in the mouth, irritation of the throat, and hoarseness of voice. 

What Causes Heartburn?

Occasional heartburn, caused by acid reflux, is normal and may occur after eating triggering foods. This is especially common in the evening because heartburn can also be prompted by lying down too quickly after finishing dinner. Heartburn can also be a result of pregnancy or being overweight. Some of the most common triggering foods include:

  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Peppermint
  • Beverages that are alcoholic, carbonated, or highly caffeinated

If you experience frequent heartburn, it may be a symptom of a broader gastrointestinal issue known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Other conditions that lead to frequent heartburn are inflammation of the stomach lining, a hiatal hernia, and peptic ulcers. For severe or persistent heartburn, the best treatment starts in a gastroenterologist’s office. Both pH tests and an upper endoscopy can help identify the root cause of your frequent heartburn. A treatment plan will depend on the diagnosis and may range from prescription medicine to procedures.

How To Manage Heartburn

There are many different ways to manage heartburn, depending on the primary cause of your symptoms.

  1. Watch Your Diet: One of the most common triggers for heartburn is certain types of food. Spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and fatty or fried foods are known culprits. Cutting back on these trigger foods can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn episodes. Instead, opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, which are less likely to cause discomfort.
  1. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals: Large meals can put pressure on the stomach, leading to acid reflux and heartburn. Instead of three large meals a day, try eating smaller, more frequent meals. This approach can help prevent overeating and keep stomach acid levels in check, helping you manage heartburn symptoms.
  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight, especially around the abdomen, can increase pressure on the stomach and promote acid reflux. By maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, you can reduce your risk and manage heartburn symptoms.
  1. Avoid Triggering Beverages: Just like certain foods, some beverages can trigger heartburn as well. Coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, and alcohol are common offenders. Limiting or avoiding these beverages, especially close to bedtime, can help manage heartburn and improve sleep quality.
  1. Practice Stress Management: Stress is closely linked to digestive issues, including heartburn. Incorporating stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or regular physical activity into your daily routine can help keep stress levels in check and minimize heartburn flare-ups.
  1. Elevate the Head of Your Bed: Nighttime heartburn can be particularly bothersome, often disrupting sleep and leaving you feeling groggy the next day. Elevating the head of your bed by placing blocks under the bedposts or using a wedge-shaped pillow can help prevent acid reflux during the night by keeping your head and chest elevated above your stomach.
  1. Consider Over-the-counter Medications: For occasional heartburn relief, over-the-counter antacids or acid reducers such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can provide quick relief and help manage heartburn symptoms. However, it’s important to use these medications as directed and consult with a healthcare professional if you experience frequent or severe heartburn, as it could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Contact Birmingham Gastroenterology

By making simple dietary and lifestyle changes, you can reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn episodes and improve your overall digestive health. The team at Birmingham Gastroenterology has decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. This includes diagnosing and helping patients manage heartburn. To make an appointment to discuss your symptoms, call us at (205) 271-8000.

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