Heartburn afflicts some 15 million people daily and if you’re one of them, you know that when you start to feel that burn in your chest, you need to seek relief right away. While some cases of acid reflux can be severe, like GERD, most symptoms can be managed by making changes to your diet, adjusting your position, and consuming some safe and effective methods of relief.
Why Does It Hurt So Bad?
Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is that annoying feeling in your chest that makes you feel like your heart is literally on fire. It is generally accompanied by painful gas and reflux. That burn you feel is the contents of your stomach rising into your esophagus and it’s a signal that something isn’t sitting well in your gut.
Symptoms can range from mild discomfort and a frequent urge to burp to burping that results in that painful, rancid expulsion of the acids from your stomach into your esophagus. In some of the most severe cases, it can even be difficult to breathe. While it may not be completely avoidable, here are some natural ways you can reduce the likelihood and severity of heartburn if it strikes
How Does It Happen?
Most heartburn or reflux is related to dietary choices, medications, and certain health conditions, like pregnancy or obesity. Some of the most common triggers include
Everyone knows smoking poses health risks but did you know that it also causes heartburn? When you smoke, you damage the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. The LES is a small opening that constricts to keep the stomach acid in your stomach where it belongs. Over time, exposure to the harmful chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco weakens it. The weaker it becomes, the worse it functions.
● Caffeine and Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol and caffeine have one big thing in common. They’re both acidic and acidic drinks naturally lead to increased acidity in your stomach. If you can’t avoid consuming these beverages altogether, at least exercise moderation.
● All The Things Spicy…and lots of other yummy foods
If you suffer from heartburn on a regular basis, chances are your diet is the culprit. Food items like chocolate, deep-fried goodies, and virtually every type of red sauce have high levels of, you guessed it, acidity. No one expects you to swear off these foods for good, but prepare yourself ahead of time and have something on hand for relief.
● Anything That Puts Pressure On Your Stomach
It’s a no-brainer that applying pressure to your abdomen is likely to force the contents of your stomach into places it doesn’t belong. It’s one of the reasons pregnant women are so often the victim of constant heartburn and reflux. Obesity and overeating are also common factors for those experiencing indigestion. So, if you’re heading to a buffet, you better make sure you’ve got your buffet pants on.
How Can I Make It Better?
A study conducted at Cedars-Sinai concluded that at least 1 in 3 people suffers from heartburn on a daily basis. The chances are pretty good that you’re one of those people. There’s also a high possibility that you’ve taken one or more prescription or over-the-counter treatments for it. While most of those medications are perfectly harmless, Zantac was found to be potentially dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that in 2018, the FDA ordered its ban in the US.
Zantac and ranitidine are known level 2 carcinogens. That means they are shown to have caused cancer in animals and are just as likely to cause cancer in humans. Quality control studies showed that high levels of NMDA were found in these products and the levels increased as the product aged. If you were diagnosed with cancer after taking heartburn medication Zantac, you may be able to file a lawsuit and seek compensation.
That doesn’t mean you WILL develop cancer but it does mean you should seek out other methods of relief
● Chew Gum
One of the easiest solutions to abate heartburn is to chew sugar-free gum. Chewing gum produces more saliva, which in turn causes you to swallow more frequently. Both of these result in minimizing the symptoms of reflux. Saliva neutralizes stomach acid and swallowing forces the acid back down.
● Quit Smoking
Not that you needed another reason, but quitting smoking might just eliminate your heartburn altogether. It gives the LES a chance to heal and do its job. Another side effect of smoking is that it damages the esophagus, making heartburn that much more painful when you do have it.
● Eat Less
It’s just as important to eat less as it is to avoid certain foods. Eating less is a good strategy for several reasons, but when it comes to reflux, taking in smaller portions gives your stomach the space it needs to digest things better.
● Ripe Bananas
Consuming potassium-rich foods, like bananas, melons, and nuts, helps reduce acid in your stomach. The reason being is that these foods are alkalis and they neutralize acid naturally.
Calcium is another neutralizer and is one of the most common treatments for heartburn symptoms. Take supplements as directed and try to avoid products that have additives.
● Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is one of the world’s oldest and most widely used homeopathic remedies. Known for its healing properties, peppermint oil can be added to water or tea for instant relief for several tummy ailments.
● Baking Soda
If you’ve ever mixed baking soda with vinegar, you know that it causes some pretty extreme bubbling. That’s because baking soda neutralizes the acid. When you consume a mixture of a teaspoon with a cup of water and drink it, it has a similar effect on your stomach acids.
There are several safe options to reduce and eliminate heartburn, but should you be unable to find relief, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of your doctor. These suggestions are in no way meant to diagnose or treat more severe medical conditions.