How to Get Relief From Heartburn

Are you one of the 5 million Canadians who suffers from heartburn at least once a week? Get heartburn relief with these expert approved tips-they’re your best bet in putting out the fire.

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Man suffering from heartburn
Photo: ShutterStock

What Is Heartburn?

If Google searches are to be believed, heartburn-that searing sensation behind the breastbone-is as common a concern for most of us as hiccups. Although it can happen for mysterious reasons, the condition is usually the result of acid reflux (which is when gastric acid trespasses in the esophagus, the tube going from the mouth to the stomach). Unlike the stomach itself, the esophagus has no built-in protection against the acid that dissolves your food.

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What Does Heartburn Feel Like?

What Does Heartburn Feel Like?

It is possible to mistake heartburn for a heart attack, even though the quality of the chest pain brought on by the latter is often described as “aching,” “squeezing” or “pressure” rather than simply “burning.” When in doubt, err on the side of seeking medical attention.

Normally, occasional heartburn is nothing to worry about. However, “If you suffer from heartburn most days for three weeks or more, you should visit your doctor, as it could be a sign of stomach or esophageal cancer,” says United European Gastroenterology expert and University of Cambridge professor Rebecca Fitzgerald.

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How to Find Relief From Heartburn

How to Find Relief From Heartburn

Otherwise, lifestyle changes may bring relief from heartburn. First, some wardrobe tips: avoid overly tight belts, “control” underwear or any other garments that squeeze the midsection-they can force food and acid back up into your esophagus. Next, try to manage your triggers. Items that can aggravate chronic heartburn include alcohol (which relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, the “door” that keeps the acid out), coffee, cola, citrus, onions, fatty fare and spicy dishes. Certain drugs, including ibuprofen and Aspirin, can also increase severity.

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More Remedies for Heartburn

More Remedies for Heartburn

Consider not only your diet but also your dining habits. Don’t eat too quickly or too much, and allow a couple of hours for digestion between dinner and bedtime-lying down can press food against the esophageal sphincter.

Should these measures fail to prevent heartburn, you can treat the condition with an over-the-counter antacid. Talk to your doctor if you’re taking them regularly, however: long-term continuous use may cause side effects (such as kidney stones), and there are prescription drugs available for chronic cases.

Related features:
10 Stomach Pains You Should Never Ignore
Handling Heartburn: 3 Experts Share Their Best Tips
5 Things for Heartburn

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