The best treatment for heartburn is to practice moderation when eating, especially foods that trigger your heartburn. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight.
Of course, not all of us are perfect. Gastroenterologists also get heartburn. We asked them how to treat it and what is their best advice for their patients.
1. Go Low and Short
There are many medications available that may give you some relief. Dr. Poppers recommends using “the smallest dose of the safest medication for the shortest time period necessary,” he says.
Heartburn is not a common symptom he personally experiences. But for the times that he does experience heartburn, he could rely on an over-the-counter antacid, such as TUMS, Mylanta, Maalox, or Rolaids. “These medications neutralize the acid that your body produces,” he says.
If that does not get the job done, rely on Pepcid, which blocks one of the gastric receptors that helps make acid, he explains. It begins to work quickly and also lasts longer than other antacids.
2. Stay Upright
One of the best things you can do for heartburn is not to lie down for two or three hours after a meal.
When you lie down, gravity doesn’t help to keep acid down in your stomach, and you are more likely to have reflux.
Let’s say you went to have a festive dinner where you ate more than usual and drank some alcoholic beverages. Don’t go home and fall straight on the sofa or bed; instead, allow yourself time to digest.
If you don’t have the time, you should try to elevate the head of your bed to stay upright as you sleep.
3. Unpile Your Plate
“I grew up in a clean plate club,” Dr. Greenwald says. “If it is on my plate, I’ll eat it.”
If you are a member of this club, the most proactive step is to recognize your habit and either use a smaller plate for your food or take small portions of food so that when you do finish your plate, you are naturally eating less, he says.
When to See a Doctor for Heartburn
Sometimes heartburn occurs less than once a week, and it usually occurs when drinking alcohol or overeating.
However, if your heartburn is common, which means three or more times a week, you are having it at night with reflux or have difficulty swallowing, then those are signs to see your doctor. “Do not just take antacids and forget about it,” he says.
Make an appointment with your doctor, who may suggest some tests or screenings to rule out more serious causes of these symptoms, such as precancerous changes.
Author: Scott Dowdy