If you suffer from heartburn, then you know how every morning is going to go, especially if you drink a cup of coffee to brush off the cobwebs from your head. For heartburn sufferers, even an evening out with friends doesn’t promise to be fun. It’s more about discomfort and uneasiness that can only be quelled when you pop a couple of antacids in your mouth.Surely, you know by now that heartburn is not merely just about discomfort. It affects everything that you do, right from what you eat, what you drink and when you should go to sleep. Have you felt frustrated enough to tear your hair thinking about how you can rid yourself of it?
How Does Heartburn Happen?
You are aware that the stomach has acids which are helpful in digesting our food. Heartburn happens when those acids travel back upwards into the esophagus and as a result, you feel growing discomfort and a burning sensation near your chest. It also causes a bitter taste in your mouth.
While occasional heartburn is normal for most people, you need to sit up and take notice if it is happening more than twice a week. Increased heartburn problems could actually be a result of something more severe, known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Of course, you need to remember that GERD is not the root cause of all sorts of heartburn. When heartburn starts occurring regularly, it’s time to start taking it seriously. Here are some of the steps that you can take to alleviate the stress caused by heartburn.
What Can You Do?
If you think that using antacids is the only solution, you’re wrong. It might provide you temporary relief but in the long term it only worsens the situation. What happens is that antacids neutralize the stomach acids, which makes you feel a little better for the moment. But because the acids have been neutralized, the stomach produces more acid due to ‘acid rebound’. And that’s not all. Antacids can even cause diarrhea or constipation in some people.
So what can you do to avoid getting heartburn? Staying away from foods that cause it could be the first step. So steer clear of caffeine, chocolate and alcohol as well as spicy foods or those which have tomatoes in it. Alcohol is also best avoided while you should draw a stop to eating fried foods as well as onions and garlic.
If you suffer from heartburn periodically, you should also stop smoking and try to get rid of excess weight because all these factors can accelerate the chances of you developing GERD.
Heartburn symptoms can be avoided if you don’t lie down right after a meal, if you avoid bending forward too much or carrying heavy things. Larger meals can also cause the acid to regurgitate while smaller meals can be helpful in preventing this acid reflux.
There are a few natural cures which can be helpful in relieving the symptoms of heartburn.
- Apples – Apples are known to prevent heartburn because it has natural antacids.
- Almonds — A few almonds, taken in the morning and/or after meals, chewed very well, have been hailed as the new miracle treatment for acid reflux by some people.
- Licorice — Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (or DGL) is an herb that has been used in China and throughout Europe for a long time to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD symptoms. Chewing ¼ to ½ a gram of DGL, 20 to 30 minutes before eating meals or before bed has shown to ease GERD discomforts.
- Aloe Vera juice – Aloe vera juice consumed a few minutes before eating a meal can help in soothing the esophagus.
- Pineapple and Papaya – They both contain enzymes which help in digestion and prevent heartburn.
- Apple Cider Vinegar — Putting 1 tsp in a glass of water and drinking it one half hour before each meal did wonders for some people.
- Milk – Try this out if you are lactose tolerant. Milk contains calcium which neutralizes acids easily.
- Ginger tea – Ginger tea can also work wonders in helping you out with your heartburn.
Who Can Get GERD?
Absolutely anyone can get GERD but most probable cases could be amongst those who are overweight or pregnant. Even smokers are liable to get GERD.
The digestive systems of infants are also not fully matured, so they too can get GERD. To prevent it from happening, ideally keep the baby upright for at least half an hour after a meal and burp it often. Being careful about the diet and usual activities can help older children who suffer from GERD. An important thing to remember is that you should discuss your symptoms with a doctor if you think you have GERD because it can prevent complications later on.
If you think you have GERD, you should speak to a doctor immediately. GERD has some pernicious effects due to which the esophagus can be scarred, teeth can get eroded or worse, you might even get esophageal cancer. Heartburn that occurs regularly, could be because of other serious problems also and it’s a good idea to consult a doctor.
Note: If you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux and know some great natural cures that work for you but not listed in this article, please post them in your comments and we will add them.