7 Natural Ways To Address Frequent Heartburn
If you suffer from frequent heartburn – twice a week or more – you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. This condition occurs in people whose lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close properly, allowing stomach acid to backflow into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and neck areas. It can also cause nausea, coughing, belching, a bitter taste, the feeling of a lump in the throat and respiratory problems, including aggravation of asthma. A poor diet, stress, smoking and pregnancy can all trigger or worsen symptoms.
If you think you have GERD, see a doctor to rule out other concerns, such as damage to the digestive tract or angina, which has similar symptoms, but is more concerning. Discuss any medications you are taking, as some can trigger reflux. The classic medications for managing GERD have significant long-term side effects. If you need one, aim for short-term use only, to promote healing while you implement the proper lifestyle changes for prevention below.
To address GERD, or to prevent or lessen the need for long-term meds try the following:
- Keep a food and beverage journal along with your reflux symptoms that includes identifying certain times of the day you notice symptoms. It can help you identify, track and later avoid triggers.
- Eat small, regular meals and avoid eating late into the evening. Be sure to take your time and fully chew each bite before swallowing.
- Wear loose clothing and maintain a healthy weight. Both can prevent stomach constriction from pressure and help reduce GERD.
- Avoid lying down after eating and space dinner and bedtime apart by several hours.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
- Sip chamomile tea. It can help soothe inflamed tissue in the esophagus.
- Night support. Try sleeping on your left side. This may help move acid away from the entrance of the esophagus. Raising the head of the bed by a few inches can also help, as can melatonin. Consider a sleep supplement, 1-2 mg of melatonin at bedtime is an evidence-based remedy for GERD.
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