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How to Deal With Heartburn
How to Deal With Heartburn

How to Deal With Heartburn


Heartburn is a common condition that affects at least 10% of the population on a regular basis and most of us have had heartburn at some time in our lives. It's that burning feeling in the lower chest that can come on after eating a big meal, or after lying down flat. That sour or bitter taste along with the burning can sometimes be felt all the way from the lower chest to the throat area. It can last anywhere from minutes to hours. 

Despite it's name, heartburn doesn't affect the heart. However if symptoms are severe enough heartburn can cause pain radiating into the jaw, and can be confused with a heart attack. It is not all that uncommon to see people presenting with "chest pain" in the emergency room that turn out to have heartburn and not a heart attack. 

Heartburn is hard to ignore, and those with frequent attacks learn to recognize the symptoms. It happens when the stomach acid backs up in to esophagus. People with frequent attacks for more than twice a week are said to have a condition called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The muscles that close the esophagus to prevent the stomach contents from entering the esophagus do not work properly with GERD. This free movement of acid into the esophagus irritates the esophagus and causes the symptoms. Sometimes a Hiatal Hernia is responsible. Hiatal Hernia is a condition is where part of the stomach pushes up into the lower chest and can make heartburn worse. Pregnancy, asthma and diabetes are also associated risk factors. 

You can help prevent heartburn by making some lifestyle and diet changes. Here's 10 tips:
  • Don't lie down with a full stomach. The night meal should be at least 3-4 hours before lying down
  • Eat smaller meals. It's better to each 4-5 smaller meals than 3 large ones.
  • Avoid the foods you know trigger your heartburn. If you're not sure what does it here are some common foods that offend--onions, peppermint, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, tomatoes, tomato sauce, citrus drinks and high fat foods.
  • Get rid of the excess weight. This may put pressure on the abdomen, pushing up the stomach. The result--acid can reflux back into the esophagus
  • Wear looser fitting clothes, especially around the waistline. That too can cause pressure on the stomach
  • Avoid bending over for any length of time after meals--like doing a lot of bending over in the garden after a meal
  • If you do tend to get heartburn when you lie flat, use a wedge or elevate the head of your bed. Just using extra pillows is often not as effective
  • Don't smoke
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Be alert to what triggers your heartburn. This may help you change the patterns that are hurting you

Licorice is a natural antacid, especially the DGL form of licorice. Licorice has been used to protect against ulcer formation. It can be found in several form, and licorice root is sometimes found as an ingredient of various herbal teas. Herbalist often recommend one or two chewable tablets before meals. 

Aloe in the gel form helps relieve heartburn. LifAloe is pure aloe vera blended with licorice root, ginseng and ginger root. This blends the two best natural ingredients often recommended for heartburn. 

For most people problems with heartburn are mild. But for those who have heartburn several times a week after trying the helpful hints and natural solutions it may be time to see the doctor. Unchecked it can lead to difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, internal bleeding or worse. Tests may be needed to find out the extent of the problem. Further medical care, and sometimes even surgery is needed. 

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