After enjoying a meal, some people may experience an uncomfortable burning pain in the chest. This is called heartburn. This occurs when stomach acids produced during digestion refluxes into the esophagus. Heartburn is common to everyone. Thus, it is important that everyone knows what the most common heartburn symptoms are and what to do to get an easy and quick heartburn relief.
How and why heartburn happens?
Before getting in to details on how to get immediate heartburn relief, we must first understand what heartburn is and its causes.
The food we eat travels from the mouth to the stomach through a tube called the esophagus. Once the food reaches the stomach, it is prevented from refluxing (going back into the throat or esophagus) by the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a special circular muscle located in between the esophagus and stomach. When the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes, nothing prevents the acids produced by digestion from going back up to your throat. This is called acid reflux. Acid reflux is mainly what causes heartburn. There are some cases though where acid reflux is not the cause of heartburn. But definitely, heartburn will not take place without having acid reflux.
What are the Most Common Heartburn Symptoms?
Heartburn could be experienced by anyone, healthy or not. Heartburn causes an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest. This is the most common type of heartburn symptoms. In most cases, this burning sensation in the chest is accompanied by:
- A feeling of food stuck in the throat
- Water brash, sour taste at back end of the throat
- Hoarseness or coughing episodes
When to See a Doctor?
- When heartburn symptoms are accompanied by shortness of breath, cold sweat, dizziness, and/or radiation to the neck or arm
- When reoccurring heartburn is experienced. Persistent heartburn can lead to more serious issues such as the following:
- Inflammation of the esophagus that can result to ulcer which can cause serious bleeding.
- Other significant GERD complications such as scarring and stricture
- Barrette’s esophagus, a condition associated with high risk of esophageal cancer.
Quick and Easy Home Remedies for Heartburn Relief
When heartburn strikes, you must know to counteract acid in a quick and easy way. Heartburn relief can easily be gained by taking antacid medications. However, heartburn drugs are not always present in our medicine cabinets. In this case, home remedies can give you a great advantage. Here are some quick and easy home remedies for heartburn relief.
Instant Heartburn Relief
- Baking Soda. Baking soda has lots of uses at home. One of which is to relieve and prevent acid reflux that may cause heartburn. Because it is a base, sodium bicarbonate commonly known as baking soda, can counterbalance stomach acids. Half or one teaspoon of baking soda when mixed with a glass of water can do the trick. However, baking soda should not be used as a regular remedy by people having persistent acid reflux or heartburn as it is high in salt which could cause nausea and swelling. For occasional acid reflux and heartburn, baking soda is definitely a relief provider.
- Mustard. It might not be a favorite of many, but mustard can bring quick heartburn relief to everyone. Mustard is an alkalizing food and it has lots of minerals. It also has a weak type of acid from its vinegar content. These alkaline properties that mustard has can neutralize and counterbalance acids produced by the stomach during digestion. All it takes is a spoonful of mustard, and the acids creeping up from your stomach to your esophagus will be calmed down, warding off heartburn.
Other Home Remedies to Prevent Heartburn
- Chew a gum. Aside from the fact that it can freshen your breath, chewing gum has other advantages specially for people having unrelenting acid reflux and heartburn. A study published in the Journal of Dental Research found that people with GERD experience relief from heartburn after chewing a sugar-free gum, 30 minutes after a meal. Chewing a gum stimulates and increases saliva production. When there is good saliva production, it helps dilute accumulated acids in the gut and helps clear acid out fast.
- Banana or apple. These fruits, banana and apple, contain natural antacids that can help block acid reflux and avoid heartburn. If you want a healthy and natural heartburn relief, try eating one banana a day. Banana can combat acid reflux that causes heartburn. You can also try eating one apple few hours before going to bed and experience the comfort it can bring to your stomach and esophagus.
- Almonds. These nuts are not just delicious and tasty. Almonds have natural properties that can counterbalance acids in your stomach. Consuming a couple of almonds after every meal can reduce the chances of acid reflux and heartburn.
- Ginger tea. Homemade ginger tea is another thing you can do to ease and prevent heartburn. Ginger is not just an ordinary kitchen spice. It can prevent and cure various stomach issues such as acid reflux because of its gastro-protective effect. All you need to do is get about 3 quarter-sized gingerroot, slice these into small pieces, and let boil in 2 cups of water for about 30 minutes. Cool it down to tolerable temperature and have a sip of your homemade ginger tea. Drinking this tea at least 20 minutes before meal can prevent acid reflux and heartburn.
- Chamomile tea. Acid reflux that causes heartburn can be triggered by stress. A cup of chamomile tea before going to bed has a calming effect that can relieve stress and prevent acid reflux. Aside from that, chamomile tea can also help ease and lessen stomach inflammation and balance acidity levels in the stomach. Taking a cup of chamomile tea half an hour or an hour before bedtime can definitely get you a warm sleep and save you from acid reflux and heartburn.
- Aloe juice. Aloe Vera has many uses. It has a soothing effect that can reduce inflammation and ward off acid reflux. All you need is a half-cup of aloe juice before meals. Aloe juice are easy to find and are mostly available in supermarkets.
7 Things You Can Do to Ward Off Heartburn
Aside from homemade remedies and over-the-counter drugs, heartburn can also be addressed by doing some practical things before and while it strikes. Here are ten things you can do for heartburn relief:
- Don’t smoke. We already know that smoking is bad for our health. As far as heartburn is concerned, don’t light up a cigarette while it strikes or stop smoking for good. Smoking can worsen and encourage acid reflux which can result to heartburn.
- Eat right. We get enjoyment from eating. Who doesn’t? But too much of anything is bad. Eating a lot in one meal will definitely get you into trouble. To avoid acid reflux and heartburn, it is advised to eat small meals six or seven times a day rather than eating big meals.
- Don’t eat before bedtime. Eating should be done 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This way, you will have enough time to digest food before lying down. When lying down, your digestive system will get a hard time digesting food which will likely result to heartburn.
- Avoid fatty food. When eaten, food with high fat content stays longer in the stomach. They are difficult to digest. As a result, the stomach produces more acid to aid digestion. High fat content foods can also make your lower esophageal sphincter relax. When this happens, nothing prevents stomach acids from refluxing into your esophagus.
- Avoid tight clothing. Loosen up. When you are having a heartburn, stomach acids creep up to your throat. The first thing you need to do is to loosen up whatever tight clothing you are wearing to avoid stomach acid from getting pushed upward.
- When lying, elevate from the waist up. During episodes of heartburn and you’re lying down and can’t get up, heartburn relief can be obtained by elevating your body from the waist up. This way, you can prevent stomach acids from refluxing into your esophagus.
- Watch your triggers. One of the best keys to avoiding heartburn is knowing what triggers it. You might want to list down foods, medications, or things you do that cause your heartburn so you can avoid it in the future. Some of the most common triggers are:
- The food you eat. One of the most common heartburn causes is basically the food that we consume. Some of these foods or drinks that we consume everyday may trigger or encourage increased acid secretion which primarily sets up heartburn. Here are some foods and drinks that may trigger or cause heartburn:
- Carbonated drinks such as soda
- Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, hot chocolate, etc.
- Alcohol drinks such as wine and beer
- Acidic juices such as pineapple, grapefruit, and orange juice
- Acidic foods like oranges, tomatoes, and grapes
In addition, high consumption of fatty food is also one of the many heartburn causes. Consuming food with high-fat content affects the way your lower esophageal sphincter functions. This type of food can make your lower esophageal sphincter relax and cause acid reflux and then heartburn.
- The meds you take. You might not notice it, but the medicines you are taking might probably be the reason why you are experiencing heartburn. Some of these meds can stimulate more acid production in the stomach. Examples of these meds are:
- Ibuprofen such as Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.
- Naproxen such as Aleve and Naprosyn
When home remedies are not working to get you immediate heartburn relief, over-the-counter (OTCs) and prescribed medications might do the trick for you. These type of medications are specially formulated to neutralize stomach acids, prevent acid reflux, or reduce stomach acid production. Here is a list of the most common types of OTC and prescribed medications that can bring the heartburn relief you are looking for:
Antacids for Heartburn Relief
For many, antacids can provide instant heartburn relief by neutralizing stomach acids. Antacids are mostly used by people with occasional heartburn. They are not intended to heal an inflamed or damaged esophagus. So, for people with severe or persistent heartburn, antacids might not bring relief to you. If overused, side effects of antacids are constipation or diarrhea. Examples of these are:
H2 antagonist for Heartburn Relief
This type of medications work by blocking histamine’s action. Histamine is a chemical that encourages and promotes acid production within the stomach. As an outcome, production of acid decreases and acid reflux can be avoided. Examples of these are:
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) for Heartburn Relief
This is another type of medication that prevents stomach acid production. Examples of these are: esomeprazole
Promotility Agents for Heartburn Relief
This type of medication works by encouraging muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to work properly which may help prevent acid from staying in the stomach for a long period. When the gastrointestinal tract works okay, it also strengthens the lower esophageal sphincter which results to a decreased chance of acid reflux and heartburn. Side effects of these medications are restlessness, fatigue, diarrhea, drowsiness, and some movement issues. One of the most common promotility agents occasionally used to treat heartburn is Reglan.
Just a Reminder
Though most of these medications are over-the-counter, it is still advised to first consult a doctor before using any of these for heartburn relief. This is to properly diagnose what is causing your heartburn to be prescribed with the medication that is best suited with your condition. Another thing is, these medications may have some conflicts with other meds that you are presently taking. Talking to your doctor about it before taking any heartburn medication will help avoid other health issues and complications.