Avoid foods and beverages that affect lower esophageal sphincter (LES) pressure. When the LES doesn't do its job, the acidic stomach contents flow backward into the esophagus and cause irritation. Some examples of foods that can affect LES pressure are fried and fatty foods, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, citrus fruit and juices, and tomato products.

Decrease the size of portions at mealtime. Larger meals stay in the stomach longer and increase chances for reflux.

Lose weight if overweight.
Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking weakens the LES and nicotine stimulates stomach acid.

Elevate the head of the bed 6 inches. This helps reduce heartburn by allowing gravity to minimize refux of the stomach contents into the esophagus.

Stay upright after eating. Avoid lying down 2 to 3 hours after eating and eat meals at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This allows time for the acid in the stomach to decrease and the stomach to partially empty.

Take an antacid to neutralize the acid in the esophagus and stomach. Be aware that an antacid tablet treats the symptom, not the cause of the heartburn.  Long-term use of antacids may result in side effects, including diarrhea, altered calcium metabolism and build-up of magnesium in the body.

At the first sign of heartburn, drink a large glass of water.
Do not wear tight belts or other clothes that put pressure on your stomach.
Know when it is time to seek medical attention.

Are you self-medicating for heartburn more than twice a week? Do you still experience symptoms after taking over-the-counter medications for heartburn? If yes, call your doctor. Heartburn may be a symptom of a more serious condition.

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult with your physician if you are in any way concerned about your health.

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