3 Treatments to Relieve Heartburn
That burning sensation in your chest after eating a heavy meal is unpleasant at best. At worse, it may even feel like a heart attack. Heartburn is a form of indigestion, pain typically felt in the stomach due to difficulty with digestion. Heartburn is caused by acid regurgitation of food into the esophagus.
Once you figure out that your problem is indigestion, specifically heartburn, it is time to figure out a treatment plan. There are a variety of different treatment methods that can be successful.
Life Style Changes
The first thing you need to look at when trying to alleviate heartburn symptoms is your diet. If you are eating spicy foods or foods high in acid, such as orange juice or tomato sauce, this may be part of the problem. You should try to avoid these. Additionally, you should try eating smaller meals, especially in the evenings. You should try to cut back or eliminate caffeine and alcohol as these can exacerbate symptoms. If you smoke, it is a good idea to quit, not only to help with heartburn, but your overall health depends upon it. Finally, if you are overweight, losing even a few pounds can go a long way in lessening the symptoms of heartburn.
If lifestyle changes do not seem to alleviate your symptoms, it may be time to check with your doctor. Nonetheless, there are still several over-the-counter medications that you can try while you are waiting for an appointment.
Antacids are normally the first medicine to try. These common remedies contain calcium, magnesium, or aluminum that help to neutralize the acid in the stomach. They tend to work best for occasional heartburn rather than a chronic problem.
The next course of action may be to try acid blockers. These medications block the amount of stomach acid that is being produced. They do not work as quickly as antacids, but they last longer and can provide relief if taken regularly. Many are also available in prescription strength for more severe cases.
Finally, proton-pump inhibitors shut down the production of acid in the stomach, reducing levels dramatically. These are best taken an hour before meals. Some are available in an over-the-counter strength and more are available by prescription from your doctor. These are the strongest of the three types of medicine, and they are often prescribed when there are erosions in the stomach or esophagus.
For those that choose to try alternative methods of relieving heartburn pain, there are some tried and true methods. The first one is to mix a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and drink it. Because the baking soda is a base, meaning its pH is higher than seven, it will help neutralize the acid in your stomach.
Next, some people like to use aloe vera juice to relieve heartburn. While most people think of aloe as something to soothe sunburn, it can also soothe your stomach and esophagus. You can find aloe vera juice in your grocery store. Remember to drink a half cup before meals, but do not drink too much as it can also have a laxative effect.
Heartburn gets worse at night when you lay down. This is because gravity is no longer helping to keep the stomach acid down in your stomach where it belongs. Using a wedge shaped pillow to prop your upper body when sleeping may be helpful to some sufferers. Others may put blocks under the legs at the head of the bed to prop the entire bed.
Whatever methods you try, it is important to keep heartburn under control so that it does not damage the lining of your esophagus or stomach. If the heartburn is chronic, it is also important to visit your doctor as further testing may be required to determine the most effective treatments.