Heartburn can be tricky. It can make you think you’ve got a cold or flu, while other times, it can scare you into thinking you’re having a heart attack.
Regardless of how it makes you feel, I am certain you don’t like it.
Sometimes your sore throat and hoarse voice and aren’t caused by a viral infection at all. If these symptoms aren’t going away, it could be because a valve in your esophagus isn’t closing properly. It’s letting stomach acid flow upwards, commonly known as acid reflux.
Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux, and heartburn are all the same thing. It can lead to a host of uncomfortable or scary symptoms and can be difficult to manage. Symptoms are generally the result of:
- Food and acid remaining in the esophagus after eating
- Too much stomach acid
- Slow stomach emptying
If you’ve suffered heartburn before or have GERD (chronic heartburn), you’ve likely heard about the importance of identifying and avoiding trigger foods. But here are some other steps you can take to combat symptoms.
- Eat slow and steady: Big meals fill up your stomach and require more acid to break down. Opting to eat smaller meals more frequently—or grazing—may help combat acid reflux. Eating slowly can also help because it allows your brain to recognize when you are full.
- Stand up after eating: Gravity is your friend in the fight against acid reflux. An upright body helps keep stomach acid where it belongs. Laying down or slouching after a meal can provide a greater opportunity for acid to make its way into the esophagus.
- A great way to ensure you’re standing after a meal is to go for a short leisurely walk following meals. This can help aid digestion and reduce the risk of heartburn.
- Pay attention to sleeping habits: Sleep can play a big role in acid reflux risk. Here are a few things to consider:
- Don’t nap after lunch or go to bed within three hours of eating.
- Try to sleep with your head 6–8 inches higher than your feet. This may be best accomplished with adjustable bed risers or an adjustable bed if you can afford it. Foam wedges would provide a similar effect.
- Do not try to create a wedge by stacking pillows.
Ideally, you can prevent or treat acid reflux without medication. These tips may help you get a better handle on this uncomfortable and potentially frightening condition.