5 Tips to Prevent Heartburn

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Most of us have experienced that burning sensation in our chest we know as heartburn. Despite the name, the discomfort has nothing to do with the heart, but is caused by stomach acid splashing up into the esophagus where it doesn’t belong. Roughly 20 percent of all adults will experience heartburn once a month. Some people with severe cases may experience heartburn on a daily basis.

So what can you do to find relief? Here are ten tips to help you beat the burn:

  1. Eat small, frequent meals. A very full stomach can cause stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. Instead, eat smaller meals more often.
  2. Don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Lying down after meals and eating big bedtime snacks are prime risk factors for heartburn. Eat meals at least two to three hours before lying down. This will give food time to digest and empty from your stomach, and acid levels a chance to decrease before you lie down.
  3. Ban trigger food. Common trigger foods include spicy meals, fatty red meat, fried foods, orange and tomato juice, raw onion, tomato sauce, butter, oil, chocolate and caffeine. Try instead stomach-soothing oatmeal, banana, fennel, green vegetables or rice.
  4. Downsize yourself. A spare tire around your abdomen will press against the stomach, pushing acid upward. Lose weight, and you’re less likely to suffer heartburn. Tight clothes are another culprit, so don’t squeeze yourself into a tight pair of jeans before a big meal.
  5. Kick butts. Smoking cuts down on saliva, which normally flushes stomach acid out of the esophagus and contains a natural acid fighter, bicarbonate. Try chewing gum after meals instead because it can increase saliva and reduce esophageal acid levels.

April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Persistent heartburn can be a sign of something more serious. The reflux disease that causes heartburn can lead to Esophageal Cancer, one of the more aggressive and deadly forms of cancer. Be sure to consult your physician for a screening if you have experienced symptoms of persistent heartburn or reflux disease, chronic cough, hoarseness or sore throat, coughing when you lie down or difficulty swallowing. For more information, click here.

Read Dr. Hausmann’s related article “How Magnets Cure Acid Reflux.”

About Mark Hausmann

Mark Hausmann, MD, FACS, is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has practiced general surgery in Baton Rouge since 1992. He graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and later attended Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he received his Doctorate of Medicine. He then completed his general surgery residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Hausmann has been a fellow in the American College of Surgeons since 1995. He performs a wide variety of minimally invasive surgical procedures. Learn more about Dr. Hausmann by clicking here.

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