Heartburn symptoms flaring up? Here’s what to try

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Wherever there’s a dietary indulgence, there’s heartburn, and this always threatens to ruin a good time. The pain and discomfort it causes are often enough to stop any festivity in its tracks.

Heartburn is a very common problem, which is both a good and bad thing. The bad news is that as many as 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, according to expert estimates. The silver lining, however, is that the enduring prevalence of heartburn has lead to a wealth of knowledge and treatment options. With that in mind, we curated a list of the best solutions to manage and soothe heartburn at home.

What causes heartburn?

Regardless of the name, heartburn actually has nothing to do with your heart. It occurs when the stomach produces acid in excessive quantities while undergoing digestion, and the excess acid and other stomach contents back up in your esophagus. This is why you often feel pain and discomfort near your chest.

Heartburn typically occurs right after eating and may take several hours to resolve. Coughing and hoarseness are also common symptoms in addition to the signature burning sensation.

Prevent it

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is certainly evident with heartburn. Just a few simple changes can fend off heartburn before it rears its ugly head.

Watch what you eat

The simple suggestion “don’t overeat,” is good advice, but we’re all human. Bad habits like overeating or eating too quickly are sure-fire ways to trigger heartburn, but bad habits are difficult to break.

That said, there are several other common heartburn triggers to watch out for, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Fatty or greasy foods
  • Foods high in acid such as citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Aspirin or ibuprofen

Pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking, as well as any symptoms you feel afterward. Jot them down on your phone or in your journal, and look for patterns. Once you know what behaviors are the most irritating, tailor your behavior accordingly.

Treat it before it starts

Some medicines can head off heartburn if you take them right before eating. This is an especially effective strategy when taking H2 blockers, a class of medicine that includes common over-the-counter drugs like Pepcid and Tagamet.

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Treating flares after they appear

H2 blockers

This class of drugs works best before a meal, but can also be effective after the fact to relieve the symptoms of heartburn.  They are almost always taken by mouth and are available without a prescription. A list of H2 blockers includes:

  • Famotidine (brand names: Pepcid AC, Pepcid Oral)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB)
  • Nizatidine Capsules (Axid AR, Axid Capsules, Nizatidine Capsules)

Proton pump inhibitors

This class of drugs blocks enzymes in the stomach lining that produce this acid in excessive quantities.

Examples of proton pump inhibitors include:

  • Dexlansoprazole (brand name: Dexilant)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)

Antacids

The old standby for millions of heartburn sufferers, antacids provide short-term symptom relief by neutralizing acid in the stomach.

Examples include:

  • Calcium carbonate (brand names: Rolaids, Tums)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate)
  • Aluminum hydroxide (Maalox, Alternagel, Gaviscon)

Methods to prevent and treat heartburn symptoms are not limited to food and drugs. Lying down after a big meal can exacerbate heartburn, so try to avoid that post-meal nap! Exercising and bending down too soon after eating can also make heartburn worse. So eat slow, give your body time to digest, then continue with your daily activity routine. If these preventative strategies don’t work, over-the-counter medications can provide the relief you’re looking for.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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