Lifestyle changes that can help your heartburn
While prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPI) have been used to treat heartburn, there are more natural methods, too. Here are a few tips to help you find relief.
Change your lifestyle
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing burning or pain in the chest. This discomfort can sometimes move up into the throat. Making some of the following lifestyle changes can ease your symptoms:
- Manage your weight. Being overweight or obese can create pressure on your stomach that forces stomach acid up into your esophagus.
- Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn. Examples include:
- Greasy and fried foods
- Citrus fruits
- Tomato sauce and other tomato products
- Carbonated drinks
- Eat smaller meals. Overeating can distend your stomach and prevent the valve between the stomach and esophagus from closing.
- Do not eat before lying down. Avoid eating at least two to three hours before bedtime so that stomach acid levels decline and your stomach has time to partially empty.
- Elevate the head of your bed. To help prevent heartburn while you sleep, place 6-inch blocks under the legs at the head of your bed. Stomach acid is less likely to flow up into your esophagus.
- Wear lose clothing. Tight pants and belts can put pressure on your stomach, contributing to heartburn.
- If you smoke, stop. Cigarette smoking can contribute to stomach acid production. It can also relax the valve between the stomach and esophagus, leading to heartburn.
- Check your medications. Aspirin, ibuprofen, sedatives and some high blood pressure medications can contribute to heartburn. If you think a medication that you are taking is causing your symptoms, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.
Call your doctor
If you need help finding relief from occasional heartburn, please visit one of our primary care practices. If your heartburn has increased in frequency or severity, contact the UCLA Center for Esophageal Disorders or UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. Frequent heartburn may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which requires medical management.