How Does One Get Heartburn?
When acid contents in the stomach rise into the esophagus, it causes burning pain. Immediate help or treatment is needed and preferably with gentle home remedies instead of medication.
Swallowing your spit can give instant relief with mild heartburn but when it’s severe, even drinking milk makes the burning sensation worse.
Consequently, many people use medication such as antacids to cure heartburn, but these can cause side effects that can worsen symptoms.
9 Helpful Heartburn Remedies You Can Do at Home
If you have isolated heartburn attacks, home remedies are an option and many of these are recommended:
1. Swallow your spit – The saliva has a pH of 6 to 7 and is 99.5% water. It neutralizes the acid that comes up from the esophagus and act like natural antacids.
2. Chew gum – Chewing stimulates salivation. Avoid flavored gums and those that contain menthol as this could irritate the stomach more, go for sugar-free gums instead.
3. Drink warm water – The liquid dilutes the acid. Drink mineral water with a high percentage of bicarbonate in small sips, this will regulate the acid-base balance and helps against acidity.
4. Chamomile tea – Chamomile soothes the stomach and dilutes the acidic contents of the stomach. Similar herbal teas are aniseed, caraway, fennel, and yarrow.
5. Almonds – The vegetable protein from almonds (and from nuts) slows down the production of gastric acid. However, this only works with a small portion of protein, eating more could cause indigestion and more severe heartburn.
6. Oatmeal – It contains starch and vegetable protein which bind excess acid. With two tablespoons of oat flakes, mix with warm water until a porridge forms and then eat it.
7. Cucumber – Cucumbers are alkaline and contain a lot of potassium and magnesium which neutralize stomach acid.
8. Potato juice or boiled potato – Potatoes contain up to 30% starch, which can also bind stomach acid.
9. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate – This is a natural antacid that neutralizes stomach acid and relieve gas. Dissolve ½ teaspoon in a 4oz. of water and drink slowly then repeat after 2 hours.
What to AVOID if you have Heartburn
These common home remedies cause more harm than good.
Milk and yogurt or quark are commonly used to relieve heartburn pain, but these have a slight acidic pH and can cause severe heartburn in sensitive people. A better replacement is soy products.
Alcohol stimulates acid production in the stomach. However bitter foods like artichoke is good for the stomach because it improves the digestion of fat and thus preventing heartburn.
3 Medications for Heartburn
If your heartburn attacks are severe and frequent or if you want instant relief, there are several groups of drugs that work against excessive stomach acid. But make sure to consult your doctor for more information about these medicines.
These over-the-counter medications bind and neutralize stomach acid. They include calcium carbonate, bicarbonate or hydroxide. They may work right away but only for a short time and more suitable for occasional, not pronounced heartburn.
H2 receptor blocker (H2R-A)
The active ingredients ranitidine, nizatidine, famotidine, cimetidine and roxatidine block the docking site of the messenger histamine which results to less stomach acid.
Depending on the substance, the effect lasts up to twelve hours. The risk of heartburn decreases however, though mild, H2-receptor blockers cause headache and fatigue.
Proton Pump Inhibitors or Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
The active ingredients omeprazole, pantoprazole, esomeprazole, rabeprazole and lansoprazole are absorbed in the intestine, pass through the blood, block an enzyme, which prevents gastric acid production.
PPIs work after about half an hour and the effect lasts up to 3 days depending on the dose. Proton pump inhibitors were used to be prescribed but since 2009, prescription was not needed to purchase these medicines.
Common Causes Of Heartburn
Heartburn prevention will not be successful if you don’t know what cause it in the first place. The following are common triggers of heartburn in most cases. If you can, try to exclude these types of food from your daily diet to prevent heartburn from happening.
- Fatty food
- Acidic or sour food
The stomach reacts to indigestible food with an increased production of stomach acid.
Risk factors also include smoking, stress and being overweight.
While many smokers don’t know, smoking triggers heartburn because nicotine stimulates the production of stomach acid.
Nicotine and other cigarette contaminants cause the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus to relax, making gastric acid rise more easily than acid reflux and burning sensation in the esophagus.
Moreover, the ingredients in cigarettes damage the esophagus, which makes it even more sensitive to gastric acid, so the heartburn gets worse.
Prevent Heartburn Without Meds
Heartburn can be prevented all together with a change of lifestyle and proper diet. Since taking medicine to prevent heartburn is not advisable for the long-term, here are more tips you can do to stop heartburn in its tracks.
- Eat several small meals a day.
- Sleep with a slightly elevated head so the gastric acid stays in the stomach and doesn’t rise in the esophagus during the night.
- Wear loose clothing. Too tight constricts the stomach and involuntarily pushes the stomach contents up into the esophagus.
- Get involved in sports, relaxation training such as meditation to help reduce excessive production of stomach acid.
Get Checked if Necessary
Heartburn is very common and should not cause any alarm. However, those who suffer heartburn for months should get examined because it could be a symptom of something worse.
And though taking gastric acid blockers doesn’t require a prescription, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.