Old Wives’ Tales and Heartburn

05. 11. 2018

Our female ancestors had theories about everything — including that pesky burning in your chest known as heartburn. Let’s look at a few beliefs about heartburn to see if they’re “old wives’ tales” or “old wives’ truths.” See how adept you are at telling fact from fiction:

If you have heartburn during pregnancy, your baby is likely to be born with a full head of hair.

Old Wives’ Truth

According to research at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, 82 percent of expectant mothers who reported moderate heartburn gave birth to newborns with hair. Most moms who reported an absence of heartburn gave birth to bald babies.

Researchers are not exactly sure why heartburn is linked with babies’ hair, but they propose that it might have to do with elevated hormone levels. Increased estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy stimulates fetal hair growth — and it can also cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax. When the LES relaxes, stomach acid can backflow into the esophagus and result in acid reflux and heartburn! (Fit Pregnancy).

Drinking milk or cream can cut the pain of heartburn.

Old Wives’ Tale

Grandma may have sworn by a cup of warm milk before bed to settle the stomach, but studies show that consuming milk or dairy products increases acid production. Excess acid in the stomach can put you at risk for acid reflux, stomach upset and indigestion, so avoid eating and drinking (especially dairy products) at least two hours before bedtime.

Taking too many antacids can cause constipation.

Old Wives’ Truth

Antacids can offer quick relief from acid indigestion. However, when taken too often, antacids that contain magnesium or aluminum only may cause constipation for some or diarrhea for others. You may have better results with antacids that contain both magnesium and aluminum, which are less likely to cause side effects.

Whether Old Wives’ Tales are fact or fiction, you can count on the expertise of a board-certified gastroenterologist to diagnose the cause of your heartburn. Do not ignore your symptoms or try to keep them at bay by using over-the-counter medication for extended periods of time. Left untreated, reflux can cause inflammation and bleeding in the esophagus, increasing your risk for Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

Click here to be connected with a GI specialist so you can begin heartburn treatment and get lasting results.

Related Articles:

Could Ginger be Your Cure-All for Heartburn?
Healing Heartburn in Pregnancy
Best Ice Cream for Heartburn

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