Do you experience the unpleasant feeling of having the last meal you ate come back to your throat? Or do you feel a painful, uncomfortable, burning sensation in your chest? If these symptoms are common with you, then you probably have heartburn. Heartburn is that feeling you get when what you have in your stomach (usually meal) comes up to the esophagus and toward the mouth. You can easily deal with this condition with effective home remedies for heartburn, but first, we need to discuss other equally important aspects of heartburn.
Table of Contents
You will learn the following from this post:
- Meaning of heartburn
- Heartburn vs GERD
- Heartburn natural remedies
What is Heartburn?
Another name for heartburn is acid reflux. According to Medical News Today, acid reflux occurs when acid climbs from the stomach up to the esophagus, threatening to come out through the mouth. Various situations can cause heartburn, and it tends to affect such people as those who have asthma, overweight people, and pregnant women. In addition, if you frequently experience heartburn, you may have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), resulting in complications in the long run. Therefore, anyone experiencing the symptoms of heartburn should immediately inform their doctor about it.
Once you have eaten that meal, your body is supposed to do the processing, leaving you with only the memory of the excellent food you ate. But heartburn usually brings back the details of the food by bringing its acid back to your throat.
Your esophagus is the tube that links your mouth to your stomach, and the job of this esophagus is to push food down to your stomach. As soon as the food reaches your stomach, enzymes and acids start breaking it down for the digestion process to occur. The acids in the gut are pretty potent, and your stomach lining has a way of protecting your stomach against the toxicity of that acid. However, when heartburn occurs, some of the acids that are supposed to remain in the stomach climb back up into the esophagus, and it is that acid that gives you that burning sensation you feel afterward.
Heartburn vs GERD
Frequent cases of heartburn can become a severe issue. If your heartburn comes two or more times each week, you may be suffering from GERD, a more severe condition. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a health condition where frequent exposure of the throat to stomach acid can cause irritation and damage the esophagus. Over time, such exposure can result in problems like difficulty in swallowing. Almost 50 percent of Americans experience symptoms of GERD, but you can improve the condition with lifestyle changes and effective home remedies for heartburn.
GERD is a condition defined by the improper functioning of the sphincter that exists between the stomach and esophagus, which makes the contents of the stomach climb up into the espophagus. Heartburn is a leading symptom of this chronic condition. Still, other symptoms associated with GERD include an uncomfortable feeling of fullness after dinner, a sense of a lump in the throat, erosion of the teeth enamel, bad breath, unexplained chest pain, asthma, difficulty or painful swallowing, frequent clearing of the throat, chronic coughing, hoarseness, and persistent sore throat. In addition, a persistent GERD left untreated can lead to more harmful diseases like esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus, and esophagitis.
Consult your physician or doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms of GERD. GERD treatment is usually more complex than acid reflux that effective home remedies for heartburn can easily control. Therefore, treatment for GERD will most likely require prescription medicines. If you infrequently experience heartburn, usually only after specific triggers, and you are not feeling the other symptoms of GERD, then you are most likely having bouts of heartburn. However, your doctor is the best professional to decide what you really have.
Prescription Medications for GERD
There are two categories of medications that can suppress the production of acid. Histamine-2 receptor antagonists (H2RAs) are effective for blocking the effect of histamine, which is responsible for stimulating specific cells that produce acid in the stomach, including nizatidine, famotidine, ranitidine, and cimetidine. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) function by blocking an enzyme that may cause acid secretion, including dual delayed-release dexlansoprazole, pantoprazole magnesium, rabeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole sodium, lansoprazole, and omeprazole.
OTC Treatments for Heartburn and GERD
People who experience heartburn are familiar with on-the-counter medications because they offer quick relief from the heartburn they occasionally suffer. The drugs are available at any grocery chain or drug store. They can also help people with GERD. Medications like Peptol-Bismol, Tums, and Maalox effectively neutralize acid formation. Another product called Gaviscon also helps neutralize stomach acids – it also acts as a barrier to prevent acid from rising into the espophagus. You should not use these products for more than two weeks; it might be a sign that you might have GERD if you realize that you have been using them more than two weeks or an indication that your medication for GERD is not working well enough. However, the best solutions for managing heartburn are effective home remedies for heartburn.
Heartburn Natural Remedies
Most people use medications to treat heartburn or acid reflux, but many lifestyle changes can help you reduce the condition’s symptoms and generally improve your quality of life. The post below outlines the natural cure for heartburn or acid reflux, and all the remedies have the backing of extensive scientific research.
1. Chew Gum
Studies have revealed that chewing gum may help reduce the acidity in your esophagus. The most effective gums are the ones that contain bicarbonate because they assist in neutralizing acid and preventing reflux. In addition, chewing gum can help in the production of adequate saliva that can help clear the esophagus of acid. However, further research should be carried out to determine whether chewing gum can help relieve heartburn symptoms or treat acid reflux.
2. Sleep on Your Left Side
Various researchers have agreed that sleeping on your right side may aggravate reflux symptoms at night. However, sleeping on your left side may reduce acid exposure in the esophagus by 71 percent. Although the reason for this is not yet clear, some have said that anatomy can give it a proper explanation.
The esophagus enters the right side of the stomach. Because of this, the lower esophageal sphincter stays above the level of stomach acid when you sleep on your left side. Also, the stomach acid covers the lower esophageal sphincter when you lie on your right side, thus increasing the risk of acid reflux. Although sleeping on the left side all night may not be achievable, it can bring you comfort as you fall asleep.
3. Elevate the Head of Your Bed
Some people experience the symptoms of acid reflux during the night, which can affect the quality of sleep and make falling asleep more difficult.
Changing your sleeping position by elevating the pillow or the head of your bed could help in reducing the symptoms of acid reflux, thereby improving the quality of sleep. A review showed that elevating the head of the bed reduced acid reflux and improved the symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation in GERD patients.
A different study also found that people that use a wedge to elevate their upper body (with such items as special pillows) while asleep experience less acid reflux than when they sleep flat.
4. Eat Dinner Earlier
Doctors and healthcare professionals often advise those suffering from heartburn to avoid eating within the three hours before they sleep. That is because sleeping horizontally after a meal makes it difficult for the stomach to digest the meal, thereby worsening the symptoms of GERD for those that have it. A review has revealed that late-night meals increased acid exposure by 5 percent when lying down, compared to early meals.
More studies need to be carried out before a solid conclusion can be determined about the effects of late evening meals. Also, the effect may depend on the workings of individual body systems.
5. Eat Cooked Onions Instead of Raw
Raw onions are famous for triggering heartburn. Eating a meal that contains raw onions will increase your risk of heartburn and burping. Frequent burping might be an indication that gas is being produced. This could be due to the high amounts of fermentable fiber present in onion. In addition, it is often difficult for the stomach to digest raw onions, which might aggravate the esophagus lining, resulting in worsened heartburn. If you notice that raw onions exacerbate heartburn symptoms in you, then you should stay away from eating them and opt for cooked ones instead.
6. Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals
There is a muscle in the esophagus known as the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle is ring-like, and it is where the esophagus opens into the stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter acts as a valve and usually keeps the stomach’s acid contents from climbing up into the esophagus. This valve typically remains close and may only open when you vomit, belch, or swallow. In people suffering from heartburn, this muscle is dysfunctional or weakened. Heartburn can arise when there is too much pressure on the muscle, resulting in acid squeezing through the opening.
Many symptoms of heartburn occur after a meal. Well, that is not surprising. It’s like eating one or two large meals each day may aggravate heartburn symptoms. Therefore, you should consume smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux.
7. Maintain a Moderate Weight
Located above your stomach is a muscle called the diaphragm. Usually, the diaphragm strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter that keeps excessive amounts of stomach acid from coming up into the esophagus. However, if you have too much fat in the belly, the pressure on your abdomen may become so intense that the lower esophageal sphincter gets pushed upward, away from the support of the diaphragm – this is a condition known as hiatal hernia, which is one of the leading causes of GERD.
Further research has indicated that excess belly fat may be connected to a high risk of heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. Therefore, some studies advise that losing at least 10 percent of your body weight could decrease GERD symptoms in people suffering from the condition.
Maintaining a moderate amount of body weight can help decrease heartburn in the long run. However, before engaging in this approach, ensure that you speak with a healthcare professional to determine if it is right for you or not. If it is, your healthcare professional will also let you know how you can lose weight sustainably and safely.
8. Follow a Low Carb Diet
A low-carb diet may relieve the symptoms of heartburn. However, some researchers have discovered that undigested carbs may result in the overgrowth of bacteria and increased pressure within the abdomen, which could be a significant contributor to heartburn. In addition, having too many unprocessed carbs in your body system can cause burping, bloating, and gas. However, weirdly, some other studies reveal that low carb can improve heartburn symptoms. More research will be needed to determine the best method for treating heartburn at home.
9. Limit Your Intake of Alcohol
Drinking alcohol may increase your risk of having heartburn, and if you already have it, alcohol can increase the severity of the symptom. Some studies have indicated that excessive alcohol intake could be associated with heartburn symptoms. Alcohol generally worsens the symptoms of heartburn by increasing the volume of stomach acid in the guts and reducing the ability of the esophagus to eliminate acid.
Making dietary and lifestyle changes is one of the most effective home remedies for severe heartburn. The tips above may save you from the dangers associated with heartburn. However, contact your healthcare professional before trying any of the heartburn natural remedies to avoid unforeseen complications.