Have you ever felt like you were being eaten alive from the inside? Nobody would describe that feeling as pleasant. Heartburn can be a very unpleasant experience for most everyone and can be almost unbearable for some. It is caused by stomach acid backing up into your esophagus. Heartburn is a common but manageable condition for the majority of people. Here are several things you can try to get rid of heartburn, or at least ease this most annoying of stomach issues.
1. Change your wardrobe.
This sounds like an odd solution, but really can make a difference. Tight fitting pants or belts put pressure on your stomach, which in turn causes acid to flow backwards. You should also try to avoid tops that constrict your abdomen, as this also contributes to the problem. Anything you can do that eases the amount of tension put on your stomach is a good thing!
2. Reduce your stress.
Excessive stress is bad for you in a number of ways and can really cause your stomach problems. Try to change your lifestyle to allow for breaks, and you might want to practice aromatherapy, or listen to stress reduction CDs.
Massages are also a great way to alleviate tension. If these suggestions are not helping you, you should consider seeing a therapist to help discover what is causing you such problems. If you are feeling unstable, your stomach can reflect this and simply add to your troubles.
3. Take an antacid.
The most common solution to heartburn, antacids weaken the concentration of stomach acid. In addition to how easy they are to find, these calcium rich antacids are also the fastest way to attack this problem.
A word of note, however: some brands reduce the amount of acid generated by your body later on, and thus do not provide the instant relief some might crave. Antacids should also be used in moderation as they can lead to a low stomach ph. balance, which may cause malnutrition and mineral deficiency.
4. Change your diet.
It is a sad fact of life that many of the tastiest foods out there can cause problems for our stomach. This is particularly the case with heartburn, so you should avoid spicy foods, raw onions, grapefruit, tomatoes, garlic, cheese, and yes, even chocolate.
On the beverage front, coffee and tea (regular and decaffeinated) and soda are major culprits here, along with alcohol (wine and spirits), citrus fruit juice, milk, and milk shakes. Stick with less acidic alternatives like apple juice or low fat milk.
5. Drink water.
There are many reasons why you should regularly drink water, and heartburn is another one! A full, cool glass of water can be a major aid to get rid of heartburn. Follow this with a second glass that includes a tablespoon of baking soda. Be sure to finish every drop in each glass. You may find the positive effects of this method occur even faster than what you would commonly get with antacid tablets. This is also a more cost effective alternative, which is a bonus!
6. Drink ginger tea.
Ginger tea is an excellent addition to your diet, and regularly drinking it can help prevent heartburn and can also help when you are already suffering from heartburn.
To make ginger tea, you need to mix a teaspoon of freshly ground ginger into a cup of boiling water and let it steep. The ginger helps to absorb the acid and calm the churning storm that is occurring in your stomach. Avoid spearmint or peppermint tea, as these can cause the very thing you are trying to stop.
7. Drink some vinegar.
Drinking vinegar to ease heartburn seems like the equivalent of putting out a fire with gasoline, but it actually does work on occasion. Believe it or not, your stomach having too little acid can be a cause of heartburn, so replenishing it can actually make a positive difference.
Mix a tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of cool water. It may not be pleasant going down the hatch, but the effects will be worth the initial poor taste.
8. Try other natural remedies.
In addition to the suggestions listed above, there are other less common natural remedies that will help ease your pain. Herbalists recommend teas brewed from fennel seed, anise, and caraway. Crushed cinnamon and marshmallow root are also recommended by some for their effectiveness.
9. Chew some gum.
Gum is bad for your teeth, and the repetition of constantly chewing gum can be bad for your jaws. However, it is an unexpected ally in the fight against heartburn. The gum increases the amount of saliva generated in the mouth, which then flows into the stomach and decreases the discomfort by diluting stomach acid. Chew one stick for a half hour after eating. For the sake of your teeth, go with sugar free products. Nobody likes the dentist!
10. Change your position.
While waiting for any of these suggestions to take effect, you can aid their efficiency by standing up. Keeping your body vertical impedes the flow of acid. Lying down or bending over just makes things worse as you are providing an easier avenue for it to travel. As unpleasant as it may seem, keep standing until the beneficial effects kick in.
11. Change your sleeping position.
Nighttime heartburn is a common problem and most of us cannot sleep standing up, so what is to be done for this? Try elevating your body so that your throat and stomach are no longer on the same level, which makes it harder for acid to flow into your esophagus.
Experiment with different types of pillows: use wedge shaped ones to raise your head. Another solution is to elevate the head of your bed a few inches using something sturdy, like stone blocks.
12. See your doctor.
If heartburn continues to be a significant problem for you and the remedies we have suggested are not working, it is time for you to call your doctor. Persistent heartburn can be a sign of GERD, which is gastro esophageal reflux disease, and can lead to acid damage to your throat and even your teeth. There are also rare cases when chronic heartburn has been noted as leading to cancer. If your heartburn refuses to go away, it may be time to see your doctor. Don’t be a hero!
Heartburn is something we all deal with at one time or another. However, you really should be experiencing it only once or twice a week. Anything more than that and you have a problem that needs investigating. Stop popping antacids like candy, reclaim your quality of life, and seek the advice of a professional. Following some or all of these suggestions will make you get rid of heartburn in no time!