Heartburn occurs when there is an abnormal backflow of stomach juices into the esophagus, the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. The backflow or reflux causes a feeling of burning, warmth, or heat beneath the breastbone. The discomfort may spread in waves upward into your neck, and you may get a sour taste in your mouth.
Heartburn can last up to 2 hours or longer. Symptoms often start after you eat. They grow worse when you lie down or bend over and improve when you sit or stand up.
Don’t be concerned if you have heartburn now and then; nearly everyone does. Following the home treatment tips can prevent most cases of heartburn. However, if the backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus happens regularly, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease called GERD.
GERD can cause continuous irritation of the lining of the esophagus which can lead to other health problems. It is important to visit a health professional if you have frequent heartburn and home treatments do not relieve the discomfort.
Try other home remedies before taking antacids or stomach acid reducers to relieve heartburn. If you take medications to relieve your heartburn without doing other home treatments your heartburn will likely return. If your symptoms cannot be relieved by home treatments or if they last more than 2 weeks see your doctor.
Eat smaller meals and do not have late-night snacks.
Do not lie down for 2 to 3 hours after eating.
Avoid heartburn foods like chocolate, fatty foods, fried foods, peppermint, spearmint, coffee, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, carbonated drinks
Limit acidic foods that can irritate your esophagus. These include citrus fruits and juices like orange juice or tomato juice.
Avoid spicy foods.
Avoid clothes that have tight belts or tight waistbands.
Stop smoking. Smoking promoted heartburn.
If you are overweight lose weight.
If you get heartburn at night raise your head 15 to 20 cm. Use blocks or foam wedges.
Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs that can cause heartburn. Acetaminophen is much easier on the stomach
Take over the counter heartburn products such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, Gelusil to neutralize stomach acids.
Take stomach acid reducers such as Pepcid AC, Tagemet HB, and Zantac 75.
Ask your pharmacist to help choose a product then follow the package instructions or your doctor’s advice.
When To Call 911:
Pain in the upper abdomen with chest pain that is crushing or squeezing and feels like a heavyweight on your chest which could be symptoms of a heart attack.
Signs of shock
Call Your Doctor If:
There is blood in your vomit
You suspect that a medication is causing your heartburn. Antihistamine, antianxiety medications, and anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause heartburn
If you routinely have pain when you swallow solid foods.
If you are losing weight and don’t know why.
If heartburn persists for more than 2 weeks despite home treatments. If symptoms are severe and not relieved by antacids or stomach acid reducers you should see your doctor sooner.