1. Avoid Heartburn and Acidity by Eating Right
Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, is a common health problem in adults. It is estimated that nearly 60 percent of the population suffers from some degree of heartburn. While many would define the condition as a burning feeling in the chest, it can also manifest as burping, chest pain, a persistent dry cough and a bad taste in the mouth. Any of these symptoms should prompt a trip to the doctor. In the meantime, following these five tips can help cool the burn.
2. Avoid Heartburn Trigger Foods
Careful planning of meals is the easiest way to avoid heartburn. These 5 foods contribute to excess acid production:
- Citrus fruits
There may be other, non-obvious foods that act as triggers, which can differ from person to person. Contrary to what most people think, peppermint does not help heartburn. It acts as a relaxant on the sphincter between stomach and esophagus, which makes the problem worse, so it should be avoided in any form.
3. Watch Stomach Volume
An important aspect of meal planning is how food is eaten. A large part of controlling acid reflux is not allowing the stomach to become too full. An overfilled stomach will cause the sphincter to leak acid. It is best practice to eat several small meals per day instead of three large ones. This keeps the stomach volume at a comfortable level.
4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Many people enjoy coffee, tea and soda with their daily meals, but all three contribute to heartburn by irritating the stomach. Alcohol has the same effect and complicates the situation by not allowing the esophagus to clear away stomach acid, especially after a person has been lying down. Decaffeinated coffee is a good substitute for the real thing when someone is trying to avoid heartburn.
5. Adjust the Sleeping Angle
Heartburn symptoms worsen when a person is in bed, because it is much easier for the acid to find its way into the esophagus. This causes coughing and a hoarse voice upon awakening. The best approach is not go to bed directly after a meal, but wait two to three hours for proper digestion. Raising the head of the bed to a level above the stomach will encourage acid to stay where it belongs. It is also helpful to avoid any tight fitting night clothes, as this can put pressure on the stomach area.
6. Stop Smoking Cigarettes!
Smoking cigarettes is an addictive habit that contributes to cancer and other serious health problems. It is also encourages acid reflux to develop and makes the symptoms worse when it happens. This is because smoking reduces protective saliva production, it weakens the sphincter and contributes to acid overload in the stomach. Quitting smoking goes a long way toward avoiding the negative effects of chronic heartburn.
Following the five tips above will reduce or eliminate acid reflux in most people. It is still important to consult with a doctor, as symptoms of heartburn can indicate more serious health problems.