Home Remedies for Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling or burning sensation throughout the chest. The pain can be felt throughout your chest but it is associated with stomach acids. Frequent heartburn can lead to other conditions such as ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux. About 10% of people report chronic or daily heartburn, whereas 30% report occasional heartburn. With hormonal changes and pressure on the stomach and digestive tract Pregnancy is a common time to experience heartburn.
Heartburn is caused by foods traveling down the esophagus and into the stomach. The stomach contains a potent acid to breakdown and digest food, a lining protects the stomach from its own acid. Where the esophagus meets the stomach there is a valve called the esophageal sphincter. This opens to allow food into the stomach. It then closes to protect the esophagus from stomach acid. Sometimes acid manages to escape the stomach while food is entering or the esophageal sphincter does not close completely thus allowing stomach acid to leak into the esophagus. The esophagus does not have a protective liner and can be burned by the powerful acid in the stomach. This is how heartburn is caused.
Some foods are known to cause the esophageal sphincter to not close tightly. Spicy foods frequently cause heartburn. Caffeine, citrus juice and alcohol are also common culprits. Some less known causes are fatty foods, chocolate, tea and peppermint. Medications can also cause the esophageal sphincter to loosen. This is part of the reason it is good to drink plenty of fluids when taking medications.
Prevention of heartburn is possible. Positioning your body after meals and taking medications can help alleviate heartburn. If you are sitting up you are less likely to experience heartburn versus lying down. You should not eat or take medications one hour prior to going to bed. You should drink plenty of fluids when taking medications. If you experience heartburn during the night you may need to elevate your bed or mattress. This can be done by inserting foam wedges underneath your head, back and neck to create more of an upright position for sleeping. Sleeping in a chair or recliner may also be more comfortable depending on your situation. Some over the counter drugs are available to provide relieve for heartburn symptoms. Some can be taken while experiencing heartburn symptoms and some are geared to prevention. Read the instructions carefully to determine the appropriate time to take these medications. Finally, avoiding foods that cause you heartburn might be the only option.