Heartburn is a relatively common problem. According to MedicineNet.com heartburn affects more than a half of Americans every month. When stomach acid flows out from the stomach into the oesophagus (condition known as acid reflux) it causes heartburn. This site describes over-the-counter medications, acid reflux diet menu, wedge pillows for acid reflux and natural cures for heartburn.
There are many possible causes of heartburn; some drinks and foods, certain illnesses (e.g. weak esophageal sphincter, the stomach closing muscle) or pressure on the stomach. Pregnancy and some medications can also contribute to acid reflux.
The typical symptom of heartburn is painful burning in the esophagus. It is experienced typically 30-60 minutes after a meal. Fortunately, there are many natural heartburn remedies and ways to prevent heartburn. For more information about the symptoms read here.
Cures for heartburn include:
Over the counter acid reflux medications include:
- antacids (Tums, Maalox, Pepto Bismol, Prilosec OTC, Alka-Seltzer Antacid Relief, or Rolaids) and
- histamine-2 blockers (Zantac, Tagamet-HB, Pepcid Complete and Pepcid-AC).
Antacids work quickly, especially in chewable or liquid form. They help directly by changing the acidity of the stomach. Histamine 2-blockers take a bit longer to start working. You have to wait about 30 minutes before feeling relief.
Many effective medications against heartburn are prescription-only drugs, e.g. proton-pump inhibitors (PPI). The most popular include Nexium and AcipHex.
Wedge pillows for acid reflux
When you lay down and your oesophageal sphincter (the muscle closing the entrance of the stomach) doesn’t fully close. The stomach acid can flow out of your stomach causing heartburn. Changing the resting body position by using a special wedge pillow prevents the stomach acid from flowing out into your oesophagus. High end pillows are made of memory foam, they help your stomach and don’t cause back pain.
Lowering the pressure on the stomach
Heartburn can be caused by pressure on the stomach. Lowering the pressure by removing tight clothing or belt can help to cure heartburn. This advice is especially valid if you suffer during a workout or physical work.
Choosing stomach-friendly food
Some foods can also act as cures for heartburn;
- stalk of celery,
- turmeric (e.g. a spoon of honey blended with turmeric) or
- a little mustard.
They are natural antacids. A tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a glass (8 oz.) of water is an old home remedy for heartburn.
Increasing saliva production
Increasing saliva production can help when suffering from heartburn. Two simple ways are:
- chewing gum or
- sucking on ice.
In both cases the produced saliva passes to your stomach and neutralises stomach acids which are responsible for heartburn.
Cures for heartburn are only half the story. There are many ways in which you can prevent heartburn from occurring in the first place.
Eat and drink less foods and beverages which are known to cause heartburn. Coffee contains not only stomach irritating caffeine, but also catechols and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytryptamides. These plant compounds increase the stomach acid production.
There are many cookbooks available with a plenitude of dishes suitable for persons suffering from heartburn. Foods to avoid or consume in small amounts include:
- strong tea and coffee (try low acid coffee instead),
- fatty meats,
- fried foods,
- french fries,
- sour fruits like grapefruits and oranges,
- tomato sauce,
- salad dressings and
Avoid eating before bedtime. Food cannot be digested properly in resting position. Try to avoid eating your dinner at least three hours before going to bed. Another common mistake is eating big meals. Try to eat more small meals thorough the day instead of a few big ones (especially dinner). Do not exercise after eating, as pressure contributes to heartburn. Swimming is a good example of what can be done wrong when suffering from reflux. Horizontal body position and strenuous exercise of many muscle groups increase the pressure on the stomach.
If you suffer from heartburn three or more times a week and the above described over-the-counter medications and natural cures for heartburn do not help, make sure to visit a physician. Your doctor can address the problems with prescription drugs, and also find out if you do not suffer from a serious medical condition like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).