How Can I Prevent Heartburn

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If you have suffered from episodes of heartburn, especially if it is chronic (occurring two or more times a week), you want to prevent it from occurring again. So, how can you prevent heartburn?

Before I discuss the steps you can take to prevent heartburn, I want to remind you of the importance of talking to your doctor about any treatment method. The points below discuss lifestyle changes a person can make that can help prevent episodes of heartburn.

While these are effective in many cases, for some persons, other treatments are needed. Discussing this matter with your doctor will keep him or her "in the loop" as to what lifestyle changes you are making, but it will also help your doctor evaluate how effective these changes are. Thus, the following tips are for educational purposes only, and a good starting point in your discussion with your doctor about your heartburn treatment.

10 Ways to Help Prevent Heartburn

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals. A full stomach can put extra pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which will increase the chance that some of this food will reflux into the esophagus.
  • Limit your intake of acid-stimulating foods and beverages. Eat foods that rarely cause heartburn and avoid those foods that will often cause heartburn.
  • Don't eat within two to three hours before bedtime. Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the LES, increasing the chances of refluxed food.
  • Elevate your head a few inches while you sleep. Lying down flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. With the head higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure. You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can place bricks, blocks or anything that's sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You can also use a wedge-shaped pillow, to elevate your head.
  • Maintain a reasonable weight. Obesity increases abdominal pressure, which can then push stomach contents up into the esophagus. According to some statistics, approximately 35 of overweight persons experience heartburn. The good news is that for many people, as little as a 10 percent decrease in weight will improve their heartburn symptoms.
  • Don't wear belts or clothes that are tight fitting around the waist. Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the esophagus. Clothing that can cause problems include tight-fitting belts and slenderizing undergarments.
  • Don't smoke.  relaxes the esophageal sphincter. Smoking also stimulates the production of stomach acid. Read this article to learn other ways smoking can worsen heartburn. 
  • Don't drink alcohol. If you still want to drink alcoholic beverages, follow these tips.
  • Relax. While stress hasn't been linked directly to heartburn, it is known that it can lead to behaviors that can trigger heartburn. Follow these relaxation tips to alleviate stress, and thus make stress-related heartburn less likely.
  • Keep a heartburn record. Record what triggered your acid reflux episodes, the severity of each episode, how your body reacts, and what gives you relief. The next step is to take this information to your doctor so the both of you can determine what lifestyle changes you will need to make and what treatments will give you maximum relief.

    The following tips are also useful:

    • Take your medication at the same time every day. If you take medication to treat your heartburn, it is very important to take your medication every day. If you are prone to forgetting, leave yourself a note to remind you or take your medication when you do another daily activity that you don't forget doing, such as brushing your teeth or washing your face.

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