Heartburn is such a common problem that more people see it as an inconvenience than a health issue. However, if it is no treated, chronic heartburn can cause serious damage to the esophagus and lead to a number of serious complications. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can help to control this problem and prevent future occurrences.
Know What Causes Heartburn
Heartburn is caused when the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus relaxes, allowing acidic stomach contents to come back in to the esophagus where they are not supposed to be. The acidity of the stomach contents irritates and inflames the mucosal linings and causes the characteristic burning pain.
Eating small meals that are chewed slowly is one great way to help prevent indigestion: large meals increase abdominal pressure which can exacerbate heartburn; chewing slowly will help you feel fuller faster and make it easier to cut down on portions.
Increase Dietary Fiber
A high-fiber diet will reduce your risk of heartburn. Good sources of fiber include oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and beans.
Take Advantages of Natural Remedies in the Diet
Increase your intake of foods like cranberries, carrots, apples, blackberries and spices like cardamom. These are natural aids to relieving heartburn and cardamom is effective at treating infections from h. pylori, the bacteria which can cause ulcers.
Know Your Triggers
These are different for everyone, but common heartburn triggers include acidic foods like tomatoes, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol. Learn what your triggers are and then avoid them.
Extra weight, especially around the waistline, can increase pressure on the abdomen and make it more likely that you will have heartburn. Also, hormones stimulated by the presence of body fat can also make symptoms worse.
Keep a Journal
Keep a journal of your attacks: what time they happened, what you had been eating, etc., to find what may be triggering them. This will give you more information on trends in the problem and on what things to avoid.
Discuss Your Medications with Your Doctor
Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can make heartburn worse. Talk to your doctor to find out if anything you are taking could be causing the problem and if there are any medical alternatives to it.
Consider Smoking Cessation
Smoking will exacerbate heartburn because it decreases the body’s production of saliva, which provides important protection to the esophagus. Talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation plan that will work for you.
Wearing Loose Clothing
Tight-fitting clothing can add to abdominal pressure just like a heavy meal; be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing to help decrease this pressure and thus the chances of heartburn exacerbation.
These are all fairly simple lifestyle changes to make. However, they can all bring with them major health benefits and help prevent the pain and discomfort of heartburn and protect your esophagus from future damage.
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