Heartburn, a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GED), is caused by acid refluxing back into the esophagus.
Risk factors include those that increase the production of acid in the stomach, as well as structural problems that allow acid reflux into the esophagus.
Below are steps on how heartburn can be prevented:
•Eat in a heartburn-smart way. Large meals put pressure on the muscle that normally helps keep stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. The more you eat, the longer it takes for the stomach to empty, which contributes to reflux. Try smaller, more frequent meals, and don't eat hastily.
•Avoid late-night meals. Having a meal or snack within 3 hours of lying down to sleep can worsen reflux, causing heartburn. Leave enough time for the stomach to clear out.
•Don't exercise right after meals. Give your stomach time to empty. Wait a couple of hours, but don’t lie down either. This will only worsen reflux.
•Sleep on an incline. Raising your torso up a bit with a wedge-shaped cushion may ease nighttime heartburn. But, propping your head and shoulders with regular pillows can actually increase pressure on the stomach by curling you up at the waist.
•Identify and avoid foods associated with heartburn. Common foods are fatty foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, and chocolate. Carbonated beverages cause belching, which also causes reflux.
•Chew sugarless gum after a meal. Chewing gum promotes salivation, which helps neutralize acid, soothes the esophagus, and washes acid back down to the stomach. Avoid peppermint-flavored gum, which may trigger heartburn more than other flavors.
•Rule out side effects of medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether any of the medications you take might cause pain resembling heartburn or contribute to reflux.
•Lose weight if you are overweight as being overweight puts more pressure on the stomach and pushes stomach contents into the esophagus. The tight-fitting clothing and belts that come with weight gain may also be a factor.