Especially since they tend to accompany each other, heartburn and acid reflux are one of the most common digestive problems that millions of people suffer from. The truth is, no matter how mild it may be, heartburn can have a great impact on your quality of life. It can affect your sleep, work, and even your overall health. Even though there’s a wide range of over-the-counter medications for relieving heartburn, most of them only work temporarily to ease the pain and discomfort. Omeprazole is a good example of such medications.
However, there are many other ways you can relieve or avoid acid reflux and heartburn, including paying close attention to your dietary habits and identifying the types of food that your stomach reacts to. This having been said, what are some of the things you can do or use to relieve your heartburn? Even more importantly, what is heartburn and how is it different from hyperacidity and acid reflux?
Here are some things you should know about the digestive tract disorder, including the top 10 quick heartburn remedies you can try.
What is Heartburn and Acid Reflux?
For starters, despite the name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heat. It is a common symptom of a GIT condition known as acid reflux, which occurs when the acid in the stomach is pushed up the gastrointestinal tract or the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that directs food from the mouth all the way to the stomach. To be specific, heartburn is the painful, burning feeling that is felt in the chest or throat as the acid burns the esophagus. According to a publication on the Medical News Today, about 60 million Americans suffer from heartburn each month. According to scientific research, it is estimated that heartburn affects about 7% of Americans every day.
More often than not, even the healthiest of individuals will occasionally experience some kind of acid reflux, which usually doesn’t cause adverse symptoms. However, a person that frequently experiences the symptoms of acid reflux such as heartburn is highly likely to be diagnosed with a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, which is apparently the commonest digestive disorder in the US and other parts of the world. Apart from heartburn, other common symptoms of acid reflux include swallowing difficulties, acidic taste in the mouth, cough, breathing difficulties, and sinus inflammation. In most cases, heartburn starts as a mild hiccup, which is followed by a painful, burning sensation in the chest and the throat. In most cases, heartburns are triggered by taking too much of acidic foods, spices, fats, or GERD.
Now that you have an idea of what a heartburn really is, let’s get to some things you can do to treat it.
1. Baking Soda Solution in Water
Baking soda mostly comprises of sodium bicarbonate, which is what, in Chemistry, is referred to as a salt. The common ingredient in your kitchen cabinet could be just what you need to relieve your pain and discomfort when a heartburn strikes. Simply mix a teaspoonful of baking soda in a regular glass of water and stir to dissolve into a solution. Drink this mixture to calm your suffering. Being a salt, the sodium bicarbonate in your remedy will neutralize the acid in your stomach and along your digestive tract. Nonetheless, it is recommended that you drink this baking soda solution slowly to avoid making your condition worse.
2. Calm Your Heartburn With Ginger
Scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, Ginger is known to have a wide variety of health benefits. As a matter of fact, it has been used to treat a wide variety of diseases, infections, and disorders for many centuries, thanks to its anti-inflammatory compounds. Apparently, research suggests that ginger could be beneficial in relieving heartburn symptoms quickly. Additionally, it is said to be helpful in reducing nausea, relieving pain, and reducing swelling. To try this remedy, take a piece of raw ginger root, cleaning, and grind it into a paste. You can use this paste as is or take it as an ingredient in your favorite smoothie, soup, or food recipes. Another great option is to use raw or dried ginger to make ginger tea.
3. Licorice Root Supplements
The licorice root has also been used historically as a remedial treatment for heartburn and other digestive problems. This herb is believed to contain compounds that increase or restore the protective mucous layer on the lining of the esophagus, thus reducing the effects of stomach acid in the digestive tract. However, licorice root is believed to contain a high amount of glycyrrhizin, a compound that can lead to a myriad of side effects if taking in large amounts. The best way to benefit from the powerful effects of licorice root in treating heartburn is to go for DGL, which is a supplement that comprises of licorice with lower amounts of glycyrrhizin. Nonetheless, medical experts recommend users to avoid taking too much of licorice or it’s supplement version since this could lead to negative effects such as lower potassium levels and increased blood pressure. For this reason, it is always important to seek your doctor’s approval before treating your heartburn with licorice or licorice supplements.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another highly powerful substance that has a wide variety of applications when it comes to home remedies. It is highly popular among individuals that suffer from heartburn episodes from time to time. It is believed to have a neutralizing effect in the digestive tract, making it useful in the treatment of heartburn. As a matter of fact, research suggests that taking some sips of dilute apple cider vinegar after meals can actually help prevent heartburn in the first place. It is said to act by promoting a balance in the gastrointestinal pH. However, more research is still needed to examine the beneficial effects, safety, and effectiveness of apple cider vinegar in treating heartburn.
Another quick way to relieve heartburn pain and calm the burning sensation is to take juice. However, it is important to note that not all juices may be effective or even effective in Treating your heartburn in the first place. In this case, here are some three types of juices you can go for.
● Aloe Juice – Aloe Vera is one of the most popular herbs in the world of medicine, thanks to its many beneficial medicinal compounds and anti-inflammatory properties. As a matter of fact, aloe vera juice has been documented as a popular historical remedy for heartburn and acidity, especially in Europe. Nonetheless, you’ll want to use go for aloe vera juice that has been specifically created for internal or oral use.
● Pineapple Juice – Pineapple juice has also been found effective in preventing and reducing the symptoms acid reflux and heartburn, especially when taken after meals. This is mostly owed to the bromelain content in pineapple juice, an enzyme that is responsible for controlling the levels of stomach acid.
● Vegetable Juice – Most vegetables have a (high) alkaline pH. When blended into juices, veggies such as cabbage, potatoes, and celery can be highly helpful in relieving hyperacidity and heartburn.
6. Take a Fruit
Low acid and alkaline fruits are also great at relieving the symptoms of heartburn. For instance, taking one or a few slices of an apple can calm your hyperacidity symptoms in just five or so minutes. Bananas, watermelons, and grapes are also great at neutralizing the stomach acid that is causing the burning sensation in your throat and chest.
Nonetheless, it is important to remember that not all fruits may be good for you when suffering from a heartburn. For instance, people that suffer from acid reflux are advised to avoid fruits and veggies such as onions and tomatoes as much as possible. As for vegetables, fennels, broccoli, spinach, and cabbage are some of the best veggies to include in your diet when you have a heartburn.
7. Ditch Your Tight Clothing
At the beginning of this piece, we learned that heartburn occurs as a result of stomach acid rising up your digestive tract into your food pipe. The pain and burning sensation results from the burning effect of the stomach acid against your food pipe. Surprisingly, some heartburn episodes are triggered by the compression of the stomach from wearing tight clothing. If you’re experiencing a heartburn episode, you might be surprised when the pain goes away a few minutes after you loosen your tight clothing or change into something more loose-fitting.
8. Heartburn Medications
In this age and day where there’s just too much to deal with in life, it turns out that over-the-counter medication isn’t going anywhere – and if it is, it’s probably not any time soon! There’s a wide range of OTC drugs for heartburn relief these days. These drugs either neutralize stomach acid or reduce the amount of acid secreted by your stomach. Most of them are categorized in one of the three major classes, which include antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 blockers. There’s also a wide range of prescription medications for heartburn. Some of the most common ones include omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, and dexlansoprazole, among others.
9. Chewing Gum
As absurd as it may sound, research has actually found chewing gum to be helpful in reducing heartburn, especially after meals. This is mostly because it stimulates the production of saliva, which might reduce the amount of acid along the esophagus through dilution. This is based on the fact that saliva is alkaline and that you’ll always swallow a considerable amount of saliva when chewing gum. However, it is also important to stick to the sugarless or low-sugar type of gum, as taking too much sugar is again not healthy for both your stomach and your overall health.
10. Posture Adjustments
Apparently, maintaining a good posture is not important for your spinal health only, but also for your gut health. In your digestive system, there’s something known as the lower esophageal sphincter or LES, a ring of muscles that prevents the contents in your stomach from rising up your gullet. Maintaining an improper posture when sitting or lying down can put pressure on the LES, causing the stomach acid to gain its way up your gullet, resulting in heartburn. Adjusting you’re sitting, standing, or sleeping posture could make the pain and discomfort go away. If you’re seated or laying down, you may want to get up and stand up straight for a little while to relieve the pressure and use gravity to lead this rising stomach acid back down your gullet. Elevating your upper body from the waistline up when laying down can also be helpful.
Bonus Remedy – Prevent Heartburn
As they always say, prevention is the best cure. If this saying were anything to go by, the best remedy for heartburn is to discover the possible triggers and avoid them in the first place. In this case, you’ll want to refrain from lifestyle and nutritional habits that are more likely to cause acid reflux and heartburn. Especially when diagnosed with GERD, you’ll want to work hand in hand with your doctor to treat your chronic condition. However, some common things you can do to prevent or avoid GERD and heartburns include the following:
- Avoid overeating – eat smaller meals instead of one large meal
- Lose weight – being overweight can increase pressure in your abdominal area
- Avoid smoking – smoking is a common cause of heartburns
- Minimize alcohol use – alcohol is known to affect the LES and esophageal muscles
- Eat right – if you’re at risk of developing GERD know the foods to avoid, e.g. fatty, spicy, and acidic foods.
- Avoid tight clothes – as discussed above
- Don’t lay down immediately after a meal
Even the mildest of heartburn episodes can be painful, disturbing, and highly intimidating. From OTC medication to baking soda, posture adjustment, and diets, there’s a variety of remedies you can try to get quick relief. It even gets better when you take responsibility and commit to making adjustments in your nutrition and lifestyle to prevent heartburns. The tips above can help you deal with your situation, whether you get rare or frequent heartburn episodes. Just remember that it is important to talk to a medical practitioner if your acid reflux and heartburn episodes become too frequent.