5 Tips to Prevent the Pain of Heartburn

Heartburn middle aged manYou’ve just enjoyed a great meal with friends, but now you have pain and burning in your upper chest and throat. Heartburn can make you feel miserable, and whether you experience it every day or only on occasion, knowing how to prevent and treat heartburn can save you from painful symptoms and restless nights.

What Causes Heartburn

We need stomach acid to digest our food, but when that acid backs up into the esophagus, the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach, we have heartburn. Normally a muscle called the esophageal sphincter allows food and liquid into the stomach but keeps acid out of the esophagus. If that muscle weakens, acid can escape.

Stopping the Misery

Some heartburn triggers are easy to spot, while others may not be so evident. Try these five steps to eliminate things that may be setting off your heartburn:

  1. Eat Dinner Earlier – Going to bed with a full stomach is a common trigger for heartburn. Eat dinner at least two to three hours before going to bed. This gives your body time to digest your food and for stomach acid levels to drop.
  1. Avoid Trigger Foods – Different foods may trigger heartburn, so try to take note of which foods start your symptoms. Some of the more common culprits include tomatoes, onions, citrus fruits or juices, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks.
  1. Stop Smoking– Nicotine can actually weaken the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, making it easier for stomach acid to back up and cause heartburn.
  1. Raise the Head of Your Bed- Raising the head of your bed by 6 inches helps put your body at an angle that makes it harder for stomach acid to rise. Try placing blocks under the bedposts. This is more effective than propping up with pillows, which can actually put pressure on your stomach.
  1. Wait on the Workout – Giving your food two hours or more to settle before working out can help prevent heartburn. Not only can the activity of exercise trigger heartburn, but bending over to stretch and exercises that put you in a prone position, such as sit-ups or push-ups, also make it easier for acid to escape.
Symptoms Still Out of Control?

If you’ve tried measures to prevent heartburn, but your symptoms are persisting, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your doctor. A doctor can help diagnose any complications and discuss medication options with you.

The internal and family medicine physicians at LeBauer HealthCare offices have experience treating heartburn. Schedule your appointment online today. LeBauer offers primary care offices in six locations, including Greensboro, Burlington, High Point, Oak Ridge, and Whitsett.

If you’re already a patient at LeBauer, call the office where your provider is located to make an appointment.

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