Have Heartburn? 5 Steps to Relief

Chronic acid reflux? The simple remedies can help you put a stop to heartburn.

Health Monitor Staff

Think you have to live with the burning chest pain and difficulty swallowing of chronic acid reflux? You don't. Follow these proven strategies for avoiding discomfort, which strikes when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—the muscular valve that keeps acid in the stomach—relaxes. Not only will you feel better, but you'll help stave off gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can lead to cancer.

Take the pressure off your tummy.
Forget eating three large meals a day. Instead, try five or six mini-meals. That way, the LES will open less frequently during a meal, and you won't overstuff your stomach.

Cut out your culprits.
Common reflux triggers include fatty or fried foods, tomatoes, alcohol, chocolate, mints, citrus fruits and juices, caffeinated coffee and tea, onions, garlic and spices. To find out which foods affect you, jot down everything you eat and note any symptoms.

Rely on gravity.
Don't lie down for at least three hours after eating. Also, try propping your head up on a pillow—whether you're on the couch watching TV or in bed. Gravity can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Slim down—even a little!
Extra pounds can cause acid to back up into the esophagus. Losing just 10% of your weight can ease reflux symptoms.

Give medication a go.
Antacids, which are available over the counter, can ease symptoms. If you're experiencing acid reflux symptoms at least three times a week, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) offer relief by blocking acid production and repairing damage to the esophagus. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether a PPI is right for you.

June 2014