5 Post-Meal Tips to Reduce Heartburn
01. 11. 2018
When you swallow, the muscular valve between your esophagus and stomach opens to allow food and liquid to move into the stomach. This valve is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and it should remain tightly closed when you are not swallowing. Sometimes, the LES can weaken and allow contents from the stomach to move back up into the esophagus and cause heartburn.
Lifestyle changes to reduce heartburn symptoms
Not all heartburn requires medication or a doctor visit. If you notice symptoms of heartburn after meal time, you can make some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of acid reflux. Here are five post-meal tips to prevent heartburn:
- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight pants, cinched belts or constricting tops can put pressure on your stomach and affect the LES. Wear clothes that are looser around your midsection to avoid contributing to heartburn.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Certain foods and substances can cause indigestion and irritate the stomach, including caffeine and alcohol. You do not have to completely eliminate all coffee, soda, beer, wine and cocktails, but save them for special occasions.
- Do not smoke. Smoking is hazardous to your health and causes harm to every system of the body. Cigarette smoke also can cause the LES to relax, so eliminate smoking. Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit smoking.
- Avoid lying down after meals. You may be tempted to lie down after a meal, especially if your stomach feels full. Keep your body upright for at least 30 minutes so your food can begin to digest. It is also a good idea to avoid late-night eating. Try to eat at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime so you are not going to bed on a full stomach.
- Raise the head of your bed. When you are standing, gravity works in your favor and helps keep food in your stomach. When you lie down, you are at higher risk for reflux. Place 4 to 6-inch wood blocks under the bedposts at the head of your bed to elevate your torso. This will keep food and liquids where they belong and allow you to get a better night’s sleep.
When to see your doctor about heartburn
These lifestyle changes may be enough to prevent heartburn from interfering with your life. If you try these tips but are still struggling with reflux, call your doctor. Remember, the telltale symptoms of reflux include:
- Burning sensation
- Sour taste in the mouth
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Dry cough
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Regurgitation of food
- Sensation of a lump in the throat
According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 10 percent of adults experience heartburn once a week, and one in three experience it monthly. Do not delay in visiting your doctor if your heartburn persists. There are several diagnostic tests to evaluate the cause of your heartburn, and treatment and relief can begin immediately.