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For the long term, the most effective way to treat heartburn is by discovering and avoiding your trigger foods and using simple home remedies. Monitor your reaction to particular foods and drinks.
Keep a food diary and take note of what and how much you ate prior to an attack. Look for correlations – it may not always be the same meal that causes it, but there may be ingredients common to every incidence of heartburn.
Regular Mealtimes and Portion Control
Making a point to limit your food portions and to schedule your meals appropriately can also make a world of difference. You may find that instances only happen when a certain food, drink or combination is consumed at certain times of the day, or more likely, night.
Generally, you would want to avoid spicy, acidic foods, as well as those that are very high in fat. Everyone is different and may have different trigger foods. An elimination diet can be an excellent diagnostic tool.
Remove all instances of a suspect food from your diet for at least two weeks and monitor your incidences of heartburn. Keep testing foods and food types until you find the culprits.
Greasy foods should be the first to go but you may need to eliminate foods like citrus fruits, chocolates, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and tomato products.
Foods like these considerably increase your chances of suffering from symptoms of heartburn. Other heartburn triggers that you may not expect are lifestyle-oriented, such as smoking, taking certain pills (for example, ibuprofen), and suffering from high stress levels.
Physical Treatments for Heartburn
Treating the acute effects of heartburn, or preventing their occurrence, is not limited to consuming something else to overcome what you have already eaten. If you can employ some or all of the following suggestions, you may find relief without the need for medication. Most heartburn medications usually only treat the acute symptoms rather than prevent the problem.
Lying Down After a Meal
If a diet change isn’t for you, there are other effective home remedies you can try. Avoiding lying down for an hour or so after you eat can be very effective in preventing heartburn. Standing or walking right after eating can be very helpful in allowing the gastric juices to flow down in the normal direction, and avoiding any reflux action.
Ideally, you should have a meal at least two to five hours before sleeping, which will provide you with sufficient time to clear some stomach content before bedtime.
If eating close to bed is unavoidable, or you still suffer symptoms while trying to sleep, try to prop your head up to sleep with both your head and chest elevated. Sleeping on an incline will prevent stomach acids from flowing into your esophagus as you try to sleep.
Watch Your Weight
The same excesses that lead to unwanted weight gain are most often the same ones that cause heartburn. A disadvantage of being overweight is that excess fats in the body can trigger the release of certain chemicals that may interfere with proper digestive functioning.
Research has proven that losing weight can significantly reduce the symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. Maintaining a healthy weight can do wonders to prevent heartburn symptoms. Eating smaller meals and choosing healthy, nutrient-balanced meals will repair both issues concurrently.
If you have put on weight, try wearing clothes that are loose around the waist and stomach, as clothes that fit too tightly in those areas can also contribute to increased heartburn discomfort.