Preventing Heartburn

Acid reflux, more widely known as heartburn, is incredibly common. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 60 million Americans will suffer from heartburn every month. Pregnant women also experience heartburn more on average due to a hormone called, Progesterone, relaxing the valve between the stomach and esophagus. Heartburn is a painful annoyance but it is one that is preventable.

What is heartburn/acid reflux?
The pain that comes from acid reflux occurs when stomach acid can escape the stomach and enter the esophagus. There is a muscular valve that connects the two organs and if it relaxes too much, it can cause stomach acid to pass through. Usually, brief contact between your stomach juices and your esophagus does not cause any harm or pain, but if they are in contact for too long a burning sensation will begin to form. If you suffer from acid reflux more than twice in one week, you have what is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Prevention
There are a number of easy things you can do to prevent acid reflux and heartburn. Here are just a few tips:

  • When sleeping, make sure to sleep on your left side more than your right. This is due to how the stomach is shaped. While lying like this the gastric juices in your stomach are less likely to enter your esophagus. Sleeping with your upper-body raised can also help.
  • Eat naturally low-acid foods like bananas, bread, and egg whites. The higher the food’s pH number, the less acidic it will be and less likely to cause acid reflux.
  • Avoid or limit foods that can increase the chances of getting heartburn like alcohol, greasy and spicy foods, and coffee. Fruits and juices high in citruses like oranges and lemons can also trigger heartburn.
  • Make sure to leave a gap of 2-3 hours between eating supper and going to bed. This allows the stomach time to empty itself and reduce your chances of getting heartburn.
  • Losing weight is a major step you can take to reduce acid reflux, both in frequency and severity.

Treatment
There are a few at-home remedies that work for the treatment of acid reflux and heartburn.

  • Drink water to help flush the acid back down.
  • Chew gum to boost your saliva production. The increased saliva will help wash the acid back into the stomach as well.
  • Eat starchy finger foods like dry cereal, crackers, bread, etc., to absorb that acid and relieve the burning sensation
  • There are over-the-counter medications that can relieve heartburn and acid reflux. Always make sure to read the label thoroughly and take only as directed.

See a medical professional if you experience acid reflux more than twice a week. You should also seek medical attention if you develop new symptoms like shortness of breath or have difficulty swallowing. Contact us or walk-in for treatment if needed.

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