How to Get Relief for Heartburn

7 Ways to Stop Acid Reflux

Whether you've been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a hiatal hernia, or some other digestive disorder that can cause heartburn, you are going to want to find a treatment that works. There are a number of options available, from long-term medications and natural remedies to methods that offer quick relief.

Your physician will most likely suggest that you try some lifestyle modifications and dietary changes as the first step in your treatment. If you continue to have symptoms after trying those, you can talk to your doctor about the use of antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Let's explore these options so you can have an informed conversation regarding them.

Getting Quick Relief

Talking to a pharmacist about heartburn.
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If you are suffering from heartburn right this minute, you probably want a fast way to ease the burn. There are two common things you can try that may be able to take care of heartburn quickly and easily.

  • Chew gum: Chewing gum or sucking on hard candies stimulates saliva, which buffers acid. This can be a natural and immediate remedy to try right now.
  • Antacids: There are a number of over-the-counter (OTC) antacids available at many stores. One of these may be enough to reduce your heartburn in the short-term.

Lifestyle Modifications

When you talk to your doctor about chronic heartburn, one of the first things he'll likely recommend is to make some changes in your lifestyle.

There are a number of things that many of us do that can contribute to heartburn. You may be surprised at how much of an impact eliminating these variables can have in preventing heartburn.

Among the most common tips are:

Dietary Changes

For many individuals, certain foods will trigger heartburn. For this reason, physicians often suggest dietary changes as the first step in someone's GERD (also known as acid reflux) treatment.

While greasy foods, high-fat meats, and caffeinated drinks can trigger heartburn, there are also safe foods, which you can replace those with. In the middle of those two extremes are foods that are best enjoyed in moderation.

By paying attention to what you eat from these categories, it's likely that you can begin to keep your heartburn under control by planning digestion-friendly meals. It can also help guide you when you dine out, knowing which menu items might be best and the questions to ask the wait staff.

Using Antacids

An antacid can give you fast, short-term relief for heartburn while it is occuring. Antacids neutralize acid in the stomach and esophagus, are fast-acting, and last about one to two hours.

It is important to remember, however, that if you are experiencing long-term or frequent heartburn, you should see your doctor. This is especially true if your heartburn occurs two or more times a week or keeps coming back, despite being helped by antacids.

Common antacids available include:

Using H2 Blockers

H2 blockers (also called H2-receptor antagonists) are medicines that reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. They do this by blocking histamine2, one important producer of acid.

Many of the H2 blockers can be found in over-the-counter forms. However, it is still important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of using these medications. They are not recommended for use by everyone.

The following are among the most common H2 blockers:

Using Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of medications that decrease the amount of acid in the stomach and intestines. They work by inhibiting (shutting down) a system in the stomach known as the proton pump. This greatly reduces the amount of stomach acid produced.

A number of PPIs are available in over-the-counter form. As with antacids and H2 blockers, it is important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of using these medications.

The most common PPIs are:

Using Home Remedies

While there are drug options available to treat heartburn, such as the those described above, home remedies for heartburn may also have an appeal. This is especially true if you have been on your medication for some time, are seeing very little improvement, or prefer to try a more natural approach to mild or infrequent heartburn.

The items listed below are just a few of the home remedies that people have used in attempts treat their heartburn. However, it's important to realize that there are no clinical studies that prove their effectiveness. It's possible that they could even have harmful effects. Talk to your doctor before trying out any home remedies.

  • Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL): This is licorice that has been treated so it is less likely to raise blood pressure. While some people use it to soothe the esophagus, it has not been proven in controlled studies. In addition, licorice is not recommended for pregnant women and people taking medications such as diuretics.
  • Baking soda: While baking soda is a natural antacid, its fizzing action might also act to open the sphincter to the stomach and allow more acid reflux.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Using acidic vinegar to fight acid reflux seems contradictory, and it isn't supported by any controlled studies.

A Word From Verywell

While heartburn can seem like little more than a nuisance, it is important to seek proper treatment. This is particularly true if you find yourself dealing with it frequently. While antacids or OTC medications may offer temporary relief, speaking with your doctor can help find long-term solutions and determine if there's something else causing it.


Mayo Clinic Staff. Heartburn. Mayo Clinic.

National Institute of Diabetes Digestive and Kidney Diseases.  Symptoms & Causes of GER & GERD.