Nothing ruins a nice meal quite like a bout of heartburn. That uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest comes from back flow of stomach contents into your food pipe. This occurs when the muscular ring that normally keeps food in your stomach fails. Occasional heartburn is common and simple home remedies may relieve your discomfort. Removing pressure on your stomach, avoiding things that trigger or worsen symptoms, and taking a natural remedy are among your options for relieving heartburn.
Stop The Squeeze
Your stomach stretches as it fills with food and beverages. If overfilled, however, the pressure inside can overwhelm the muscular ring that keeps food in your stomach -- and heartburn may result. In this circumstance, measures that reduce stomach pressure may relieve your heartburn symptoms. Loosening tight clothing or changing into something more comfortable may help. Standing rather than sitting or lying down also reduces stomach pressure. Going for a walk may help by stimulating the movement of food from your stomach into your intestines. Bending over or exercising strenuously may worsen your symptoms.
Watch How You Eat
Altering how you eat can go a long way in reducing heartburn frequency. Eating smaller meals helps avoid overfilling your stomach -- and can help you lose a few pounds, which may reduce bouts of heartburn if you're overweight. Eating slowly rather than gulping your food reduces the amount of swallowed air in your stomach, thereby limiting the pressure in your stomach. In addition to several other harmful effects, smoking contributes to heartburn and is something you'll definitely want to avoid.
Watch What You Eat
What you eat can be a factor in heartburn as certain foods and beverages may trigger or aggravate symptoms. Foods that are spicy, acidic or high in fat are common offenders. Beverages to watch out for include carbonated drinks, coffee, alcohol and citrus juices. It is not necessary to eliminate all potential trigger foods. Just limit your intake of those that are problematic for you. Keeping a food journal can help you identify which foods typically trigger your heartburn episodes.
Consider A Natural Product
Some natural products may help relieve your heartburn. Natural antacids that are organic, preservative-free and gluten-free are available in specialty stores and can provide rapid heartburn relief by neutralizing stomach acid. Baking soda has the same effect but can be potentially dangerous -- so talk with your doctor before using it. Pectin, a type of fruit fiber, may coat the food pipe and relieve heartburn symptoms -- although this has not been proven in research studies. Apple cider vinegar is another common heartburn remedy that has not been tested in research studies, but some people find it useful. Two small studies found that daily doses of d-limonene -- a substance found in citrus oils -- may reduce the frequency of heartburn symptoms, according to a September 2007 "Alternative Medicine Reviews" article.
Seek Medical Care
Occasional heartburn is generally nothing to worry about. Talk with your doctor, however, if you experience frequent heartburn to be sure there isn't an underlying medical problem. Seek immediate medical care if you experience chest pain accompanied by excessive sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, as these symptoms may signal a heart attack.
- Today's Dietitian: Natural Remedies for Digestive Disorders
- Journal of Medical Toxicology: Baking Soda Can Settle the Stomach but Upset the Heart
- American Gastroenterology Association: Understanding Heartburn and Reflux
- American Family Physician: Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
- Gastrointestinal Health, 3rd Edition; Steven R. Peikin
- Advanced Therapy in Gastroenterology and Liver Disease; Theodore M. Bayless and Anna Diehl
- Gastroenterology & Hematology: Current Developments in the Management of Acid-Related GI Disorders
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Pectin
- Alternative Medicine Review: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A Review of Conventional and Alternative Treatments
- Alternative Medicine Review: D-Limonene: Safety and Clinical Applications