Five Common Habits that Make Heartburn Worse
07. 06. 2018
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 60 million Americans suffer from one heartburn episode per month and over 15 million experience heartburn on a daily basis.
Before you reach for a Tums or Prevacid to soothe your burning throat and chest, take a moment to examine your daily habits. You may be able to reduce your heartburn symptoms by modifying some of your daily choices and avoiding certain habits.
Habit #1: Eating Large Meals
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as filling your dinner plate with your favorite foods and enjoying a second helping. Unfortunately, that warm feeling can turn sour when acid reflux sets in. Overfilling your stomach creates pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, causing the valve to open and exposing your esophagus to corrosive gastric acid.
Solution: Eat smaller meals throughout the day. Use a smaller plate and eat slowly.
Habit #2: Lying Down After Eating
Simple carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, pasta and bread can make you feel tired, and you may want to lie down after eating. Lying down increases the risk of stomach acid seeping into the esophagus and causing that familiar burn in the throat.
Solution: Avoid simple carbohydrates and center your diet on proteins and complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy. Stay in an upright position for at least one hour after eating to allow stomach contents to digest.
Habit #3: Giving in to trigger foods
Heartburn is often caused by eating trigger foods that contain chocolate, mint, citrus, tomato, butter, onions, garlic, caffeine and dairy.
Solution: Keep a food journal to determine which trigger foods exacerbate your heartburn symptoms. You may find that some of your favorite foods cause heartburn, so you will have to exercise self-control to prevent heartburn flare-ups.
Habit #4: Late-Night Snacking
Ordering midnight pizza is fun, but it’s never worth the discomfort of acid indigestion. Late-night snacking is problematic on several levels. We almost always crave junk foods and trigger foods after the sun goes down and eating these foods right before going to bed creates a heartburn double-whammy.
Solution: Don’t consume food within two or three hours of bedtime. If you get the late-night munchies, make wise choices like whole fruits and vegetables or a few whole grain crackers with peanut butter.
Habit #5: Smoking and Drinking Alcohol
Tobacco and alcohol use can increase the risk for heartburn episodes and pose a serious threat to your health.
Solution: For the sake of your digestive health and overall wellness, quit smoking and limit your alcohol consumption to special occasions.
Call a Gastroenterologist
If you continue to experience heartburn symptoms after making these five lifestyle changes, make an appointment with a board-certified gastroenterologist. Enter your zip code in the orange box to Find a Specialist or GI center near you.