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Heartburn Prevention

written by: Harry Sylvester • edited by: lrohner • updated: 10/21/2010

Heartburn is an uncomfortable feeling of burning in your chest due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Find out several lifestyle changes to prevent heartburn from occurring.

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    What is Heartburn?

    Heartburn is an uncomfortable sensation of burning in your chest just behind the breastbone. Heartburn is caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) where the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close tightly, allowing stomach acid to back up into the esophagus and inflame it. Heartburn often gets worse while bending over or lying down. You might allay the pain with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) as natural treatment, or some medications that can be taken to relieve heartburn as well.

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    Eat Small Meals

    Eating several smaller meals rather than a few large ones is recommended to prevent heartburn. Pressure on the valve rises when too much is consumed at one time. Burping aggravate this burning feeling, as it makes the valve at the top of the stomach wide open. This causes trapped air to get away by passing acidic contents in the stomach. The condition may lead to burning sensation. You can use small plates to reduce your portions, resulting in heartburn prevention. Dinner must be consumed at least three hours before sleeping to give the stomach time to empty, as acid in the stomach might rise and cause more discomfort while lying down.

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    Avoid Fatty and Spicy Foods

    Fatty foods, such as French fries and fried chicken, take longer to digest. Eat baked, grilled or roasted foods instead of fried foods to avoid this problem. Spicy foods, onions and garlic can increase the chance of heartburn as well. Although it is not the spice, peppermint might cause discomfort in the chest because it can relax the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.

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    Stay Away From Acidic Foods

    Reduce consumption of acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, pineapple and oranges. Their acidity might promote heartburn, especially if eaten on an empty stomach.

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    Stay Away From Acidic Foods

    Reduce consumption of acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, pineapple and oranges. Their acidity might promote heartburn, especially if eaten on an empty stomach.

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    Enjoy Chewing Gum

    Chewing gum, especially after a meal, can help stimulate saliva, which in turn helps to reduce the effect of acid in the stomach. In addition, saliva facilitates the movement of foods you have eaten into the small intestine more quickly, reducing the chances of heartburn. Avoid peppermint and mint flavors since they may help to trigger heartburn.

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    Change Sleeping Position

    Nighttime heartburn might be irritating and bothersome, but you can do something to avoid this. Try to sleep with the head of the bed elevated to keep stomach acid from rising back to the esophagus. Propping five or six books under the head of your mattress may help if you do not have an adjustable bed.

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    Other Suggestions

    Avoid smoking and wearing tight fitting clothing, as they can promote heartburn.

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    References

    WebMD: GERD: Controlling Heartburn by Changing Your Habits - http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/lifestyle-modifications-for-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease#ut1340

    The University of Maryland Medical Center: Prevention - http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/lifestyle_measures_gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_000085_8.htm

    Medicinenet.com: Heartburn Pictures Slideshow: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid- http://www.medicinenet.com/heartburn_pictures_slideshow/article.htm