Acid Reflux

Heartburn Treatments and Cure: The Facts

Painful and limiting heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) affect millions of people each day. They turn the pleasant moments after a good meal into an agonizing experience.

Antacids that you hoped would treat the burning in your chest were the only way to fight heartburn in the past. You simply suffered through, wondering when the squeezing pain would go away. Now, though, there are treatments that attempt to prevent heartburn before it ever occurs.

Not only are there new treatments for heartburn there is also a greater understanding of what increases the likelihood youll get heartburn.


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Top Heartburn Contributing Factors

All of these behaviors can increase your risk of acid reflux and similar problems:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Eating large amounts right before sleeping
  • Conditions like pregnancy, diabetes, and hernias
  • Slouching and/or poor posture
  • Taking certain medications


Heartburn Treatments

Antacids are a perfectly valid way to treat the once-in-a-while heartburn many people experience. However, frequent heartburn is something that should be discussed with a doctor so that possible solutions can be examined. If you experience heartburn twice a week or more, make sure to talk to someone right away, as its possible that you esophagus has been damaged by stomach acid.

There are many options for treating frequent heartburn and acid reflux. Not only are there lifestyle changes that can be made, there are now prescription medications that can prevent acid reflux before it ever occurs.


Lifestyle Changes

Changes in lifestyle can help prevent the painful symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn and reduce the likelihood youll continue to experience them. Its possible that your risk of heartburn will reduce if you:

  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Eliminate or reduce alcohol consumption
  • Sleep with your head higher than your feet ?raise the head of your bed so its at an angle
  • Wait three hours to lie down after eating
  • Eat smaller meals
  • Loose weight if youre overweight or obese
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages
  • Avoid foods that seem to bring on heartburn, like citrus and chocolate


Heartburn Medication Options

Not only can the risk of acid reflux be reduced by changing your diet and habits, there are also prescription medications that can help. Nexium, a daily pill that reduces the amount of acid in your stomach, can prevent heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. It also prevents damage to the esophagus by stomach acids.

Nexium is one of the most effective treatments for acid reflux, as it is a long term solution that works for the majority of people who take it. It can help patients whether they choose to take it in the short or long term, and is tolerated well in both circumstances.

While many medications only help alleviate symptoms of acid reflux, Nexium actually helps heal the damage that acid reflux causes. Its a proven way to help prevent stomach ulcers caused by certain types of pain relievers.


Heartburn Symptoms

Heartburn is only one of several symptoms of acid reflux. Others include regurgitation and dyspepsia. Regurgitation is the feeling of acid backing up in your throat or mouth, causing a “wet burp,?vomiting, or a sour or bitter taste in the back of your mouth. Dyspepsia, or an upset stomach, can cause burping, nausea, bloating, or stomach pains. Heartburn, the burning pain in the chest thats the most common symptom of acid reflux, can also include discomfort without pain.


Acid Reflux Disease Causes

Patients develop Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, when their bodies fail to prevent stomach acid from traveling up the esophagus to the stomach. Its possible that the lower esophageal sphincter, a sort of control valve between the esophagus and stomach, is too weak, and fails to seal the stomach off from the esophagus.

GERD has also been linked to hiatal hernias, pregnancy, smoking, and being overweight.


Stress and Heartburn

Despite what many people think, heartburn hasnt been directly linked to stress. However, stress is associated with overeating or eating an unhealthy diet. Being overweight has been shown to increase the risk of GERD as well.

The Journal of Psychosomatic Research published a study that indicated that the way a person thought about his or her heartburn symptoms and their severity, changed based on stress level. People who were more stressed appeared to pay more attention to heartburn symptoms and thus experience them more severely.


Foods to Avoid

Avoiding several foods decreases the risk of heartburn:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic and onions
  • Spicy foods
  • Peppermint
  • Foods high in fat
  • Chocolate


Exercise and Heartburn

While exercise can help overweight patients reduce the risk of heartburn by losing weight, it can also trigger heartburn in other patients. For people who regularly experience heartburn while exercising, doctors recommend eating two or more hours before working out, changing their diet, and choosing activities that are lower impact or do not involve placing the esophagus below the stomach, as the yoga position Downward Dog does.


Managing GERD

When acid reflux happens less than twice a week, it can often be controlled by over the counter antacids or other over the counter medication. If it is more frequent, doctors often prescribe medications that strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter or proton pump inhibitors (that reduce production of gastric acid).

Avoiding foods known to trigger acid reflux, eating small meals, avoiding tight clothes, and sleeping with your head above your feet can all be used to decrease symptoms of GERD.


Heartburn & Pregnancy

Heartburn or Acid reflux is a common problem during pregnancy. Progesterone, a hormone produced during pregnancy, slows down your digestive system and relaxes the valve between your stomach and esophagus. As a baby grows, it presses upward on the stomach. This can combine with a slower digestive system to cause acid reflux and heartburn.

Luckily, while the second half of pregnancy can often bring on heartburn, it usually stops after the baby is born. Risk of heartburn during pregnancy can be reduced in much the same way as other heartburn. Eat small meals at least three hours before bed, gain the recommended amount of weight, dont eat foods known to bring on heartburn, and wear loose clothing. It is important to discuss taking antacids with your doctor, as some contain compounds harmful during pregnancy.