It’s common to experience heartburn occasionally. Also, one of the side effects of aging is frequent heartburn, though it may also affect people of any age.
However, no matter what your age is, chronic or constant heartburn isn’t normal. It’s also a sign that you should see a gastroenterologist. So, if you’re experiencing some signs of heartburn, like a burning feeling in your chest or a salty and acidic taste in your throat, make sure to seek medical help.
Additionally, here are some tips you can consider to prevent heartburn:
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1. Strategize Your Meals
One of the ways to prevent heartburn is to strategize your meals. If possible, stick with smaller meals and never eat three hours before bedtime.
When you eat big meals, your stomach will focus only on producing acid to help you digest food. Once there’s no space, such as if eating more than you’re used to, the acid will more likely get pushed up into your esophagus. Exercising can also increase the chances that acid may escape your stomach, like lying down after eating a meal.
2. Be Wise With Antacids
If you’re taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications and antacids for your gut problems, it’s crucial to visit your doctor. This is because such medications may mask symptoms of esophageal and stomach cancers.
Although they may give you heartburn relief, the side effects are something you shouldn’t take for granted.
3. Manage Your Alcohol Consumption
For other people, occasional alcoholic drinks don’t cause reflux. Unfortunately, for some, even small drinks can lead to heartburn. Alcoholic beverages, such as wine, beer, and distilled spirits, may trigger heartburn. It can also increase the acid that your stomach produces.
With that in mind, make sure to keep track of the alcoholic drinks that can aggravate your heartburn and try to avoid them. You should also be careful when drinking cocktails, particularly the ones with orange juice and other acidic mixers.
4. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Whether your weight increased due to your pregnancy or belly fat, excess weight on your abdomen can increase your abdominal pressure. This can cause pushing up your stomach contents into your esophagus.
To avoid this, do your best to maintain a healthy weight. One of the ways you can do this is to eat smaller meals and minimize your portion size. You can also combine your diet with frequent exercise for better weight loss results.
5. Be Smart With Your Exercises
Exercise and some vigorous activities, like manual labor or shoveling snow, may result in heartburn because such activities may cause your stomach contents to move around. However, exercise is still an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So, make sure to keep the following tips in mind when exercising so you won’t trigger heartburn:
- Avoid drink and food heartburn triggers before you exercise.
- Before you exercise, ensure that it’s an hour after eating.
- Pick your exercises carefully. The reason behind it is that high-impact activities, like jogging and running, may trigger your heartburn compared to low-impact activities, like swimming, biking, or walking.
6. Always Sleep On Your Left Side
Another helpful tip to prevent heartburn is to sleep on your left side. This is because your esophagus meets your stomach once you sleep on the right side. You must also elevate your bed’s body for at least four inches since this slight angle can make it hard for your stomach contents to go back to your esophagus.
7. Stay Upright After Eating
When you’re standing or sitting, it’s much easier for your stomach contents to stay. In that case, try to take advantage of the gravity and avoid lying down for several hours after eating. Once you stay upright for at least four hours, most of the food you’ve consumed is already digested and probably out of your stomach.
It’s also not a good idea to lounge in the evening or lie down on your couch. If you can’t stay upright, you might want to use a wedge pillow.
8. Avoid Soda And Coffee
Any kind of carbonated beverage is an irritant and will likely cause heartburn. Another beverage that’s responsible for heartburn is coffee, regardless if it’s decaffeinated. Therefore, make sure to steer clear of such drinks and some caffeinated beverages if you want to prevent heartburn.
If you can’t live a day without drinking a cup of coffee, consume it in the morning because reflux can be worse during the nighttime or when you’re sleeping.
9. Be Careful With What You Eat
What you eat or even how you eat may trigger heartburn. Some beverages and foods can cause heartburn by aggravating the tissues around your esophagus and can affect your low esophageal sphincter to keep the acids in your stomach and close properly. That’s the reason why you must be careful with what you eat.
For example, don’t consume too many citrus fruits, such as grapefruits, oranges, and lemons. These contain high amounts of acid, which can irritate your digestive tract. The acid from such foods may also worsen heartburn and aggravate reflux. So, choose less acidic fruits instead of consuming citrus fruits often.
Fatty, fried, and greasy foods may also trigger heartburn because they prevent your low esophageal sphincter from tightening completely. For this reason, it provides an opening for your stomach acids and causes them to flow upward.
Heavier and greasy foods are also challenging to digest, so your stomach will empty slowly and can lead to heartburn. Plus, eating a lot of high-fat and fried foods can increase your weight, which may result in obesity and increase your chances of experiencing heartburn.
Spicy foods are also some of the foods you should avoid to prevent heartburn. Spicy dishes often contain various ingredients, like chili peppers and cayenne peppers, that can trigger heartburn. If you don’t want to experience heartburn, try to settle with foods that don’t contain spicy ingredients or reduce the spices you use. If you’re eating out, ask about the possible spices used in your preferred dishes before you order so you can be cool about heartburn.
While there’s nothing you should worry about when you experience heartburn now and then, it can have potentially serious consequences once you experience it frequently. If you often suffer from heartburn and you don’t want to rely on heartburn medications, try to consider the above tips and consult your doctor immediately in case the symptoms persist.