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by James Thomas, Friday, May 25, 2018 | Categories: General Health

Tips for Heartburn Sufferers

Many people suffer from the symptoms of heartburn, such as the taste of something bitter in the mouth, a sore throat, a chronic cough and fatigue, and are in desperate need of relief. Heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (also referred to simply as GERD), which is more serious, are a problem for millions. Four out of five sufferers will experience such symptoms at night, according to research, with the result being disturbed sleep and an impaired ability to function normally the following day. (1) The good news is that there are ways for heartburn sufferers to find relief from these symptoms, with the use of exercise and some simple diet and lifestyle tips.


There are a number of ways in which heartburn can be prevented by making changes to the food and drink you consume. Limiting the consumption of acidic foods like grapefruit, tomatoes, vinegar and oranges is a good idea, and spicy food such as chillies or pepper should also be avoided, if you have noticed a correlation between their consumption and bouts of heartburn. (2) You should try to avoid lying down for up to three hours after having eaten, as sitting up enables gravity to help food, as well as stomach acid, to drain naturally out of your stomach. Switch to non-fatty food and lean meat, as heartburn can be triggered by greasy foods such as cheeseburgers and chips. 

Those who suffer from GERD can help to avoid triggering symptoms of the condition by reducing the amount of chocolate, citrus, pepper, ketchup, mustard, mint, tomatoes and vinegar that they consume, as well by eating smaller meals in general. Eating too quickly can also cause heartburn, so pause between bites, and do not eat anything less than three hours before bedtime as this can trigger symptoms.


Beverages that should be avoided include alcohol, carbonated drinks and caffeine as they can trigger reflux. Many people love cola drinks, but they are also often connected to GERD symptoms and to reflux, so it might be time to start cutting back. GERD can also be worsened by alcohol as it relaxes the oesophageal sphincter, so you may want to consider going teetotal. (3)


There are also a number of simple changes you can make to your overall lifestyle that could help to relieve the symptoms of heartburn. One good tip is to avoid wearing tight clothes as the likes of tight belts and waistbands can press on the stomach and trigger heartburn. Stress can cause an increase in stomach acids, resulting in the boosting of heartburn symptoms, so it is advisable to take a look at your lifestyle to identify causes of stress, and do your best to remove or minimise them. If you are overweight, then heartburn could be another reason to go on a diet and try to shed some pounds, as excess weight makes it much more likely that stomach acid will be backed up into the oesophagus. 

If you find yourself using antacids several times in any given week then you may be suffering from GERD rather than heartburn, in which case you may require a more aggressive form of treatment. The oesophageal sphincter can be relaxed by nicotine, adding yet another to the list of health reasons why you should stop smoking. (4)


Symptoms are not always triggered by the same foods in everyone, so it is vital to keep track of when you suffer symptoms, in order to identify the foods that are triggers for you. You may even want to keep a diary or log of your heartburn incidents, so that identifying the cause is easier. Some people find they experience heartburn following exercise. If this is the case for you, then you may well need to drink more water, which assists with digestion as well as hydration. You should also wait up to two hours after eating before you exercise. (5) 

One method of avoiding heartburn is to chew gum, which can result in an increase in the amount of saliva your body produces, which in turn acts an effective neutraliser for stomach acids. Reflux can be worsened by certain medications, so it is a good idea to consult your doctor regarding alternatives and have a general discussion as to how to manage reflux.


(1) http://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(15)34708-5/fulltext

(2) https://www.healthline.com/health/gerd/diet-nutrition

(3) https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/features/top-10-heartburn-foods

(4) https://www.georgiarefluxsurgery.com/lifestyle/nicotine-and-heartburn

(5) http://www.gaviscon.co.uk/news-information/gaviscon-news/exercise-and-heartburn/

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